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Conservative Policies Under Reagan and Bush. Mr. White’s US History 2. Main Idea and Objectives. Main Idea: Presidents Reagan and Bush pursued a conservative agenda that included tax cuts, budget cuts, and increased deficit spending. After this section, we should be able to:

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Conservative Policies Under Reagan and Bush

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main idea and objectives
Main Idea and Objectives
  • Main Idea: Presidents Reagan and Bush pursued a conservative agenda that included tax cuts, budget cuts, and increased deficit spending.
  • After this section, we should be able to:
    • Summarize Reagan’s economic programs
    • Describe the changes that occurred in the makeup and decisions of the Supreme Court
part i reaganomics takes over
Part I: Reaganomics Takes Over

Based on policies of reducing the federal budget, cutting taxes, and increasing defense spending, Ronald Reagan sponsored his economic policy, nicknamed Reaganomics.

  • In his first televised speech, Reagan outlined his program to help bring the economy out of recession – would become nicknamed “Reaganomics”
    • Cut the federal budget – decrease expenses federal government expenses and entitlement programs
    • Cut taxes – this would encourage private investment, and help the economy recover
    • Increase defense spending – this would allow the United States to stay ahead of the Soviet Union in military power
decreasing government expenses
Decreasing Government Expenses
  • Reagan’s strategy for decreasing government expenditures included deep cuts for social programs, but not all
    • Social Security, Medicare, and veterans’ pensions – largely kept intact
    • Urban mass transit, food stamps, welfare benefits, job training, Medicaid, school lunches, and student loans – cut in large amounts
  • Some criticized Reagan’s measures as discriminatory – the programs he kept intact benefitted middle class Americans, while the ones that he cut tended to benefit poor or working-class Americans
supply side economics
Supply-side Economics
  • Reagan’s policy relied heavily on the idea of supply-side economics:
    • If people paid less in taxes, they would save more money
    • Banks could then loan this money out to businesses, which could invest the money to increase productivity
    • This increase in productivity would drive the supply of goods up, and the prices would decrease
  • Congress lowered income taxes by 25 percent over a three-year period
military spending
Military Spending
  • Reagan authorized increases to military spending that more than offset the money that he had saved from cutting social programs
  • Reagan revived development on two controversial weapons systems
    • MX Missile – ICBM developed for delivering nuclear warheads
    • B-1 Bomber – Bomber developed for delivering nuclear warheads
  • Reagan also asked the nation’s scientists to develop a defense system that would use satellite- and ground-based system to shoot down nuclear missiles
    • This system never went into operation
economic downturn
Economic Downturn
  • As Reagan was working on his economic policies, the country again hit an economic downturn
    • Lasted from July, 1981 (just before Mr. White’s birthday) until November, 1982
  • In early 1983, consumers started to spend more, and this boosted the economy
    • Tax cuts, declining interest rates, and lower inflation bolstered their confidence in the economy
  • The Stock Market dropped briefly at the end of this upswing, but then it started to climb again
  • Reagan also pursued a policy of deregulation, which means the reduction of laws, regulations, and restrictions on economic practices
    • Removed price controls on oil
    • Eliminated federal health and safety inspections for nursing homes
    • Deregulated the airline industry – allowed airlines to abandon unprofitable air routes
    • Deregulated the savings and loan industry
  • These measures did increase competition, an often resulted in lower prices for consumers
reagan downsizes the epa
Reagan Downsizes the EPA
  • Reagan also cut the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency
  • James Watt, Reagan’s secretary of the interior, sold millions of acres of public land to private developers
  • Watt also:
    • Opened up off-shore oil drilling
    • Encouraged timber cutting in national forests
    • Eased restrictions on coal mining
rising national debt
Rising National Debt
  • Even though the economy was doing well, there were still some economic problems for the country
    • Tax cuts had benefitted the rich, while social program cuts had hurt the poor
    • Even though Reagan had made budget cuts, federal spending was still more than what it took in – budget deficit
  • By the end of Reagan’s first term, the national debt had almost doubled
part ii judicial power shifts to the right
Part II: Judicial Power Shifts to The Right

Ronald Reagan appointed several justices to the Supreme Court, and shifted the court towards a conservative attitude.

a more conservative supreme court
A More Conservative Supreme Court
  • Reagan was able to further his conservative goals by appointing many new, conservative justices to the Supreme Court
    • Sandra Day O’Connor – first woman on the Supreme Court
    • Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, William Rehnquist
  • After Reagan, President George H. W. Bush nominated David Souter
  • Bush also nominated Clarence Thomas
    • Anita Hill, a law professor, testified that Thomas had sexually harassed her when she worked for him in the 1980s
    • Thomas was still confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice
supreme court measures
Supreme Court Measures
  • Through Reagan and Bush, the Supreme Court became much more conservative and much less liberal than it had been in the past
    • Restricted abortion rights for women
    • Imposed new restrictions on civil rights laws
    • Narrowed the rights of arrested persons
part iii conservative victories in 1984 and 1988
Part III: Conservative Victories in 1984 and 1988

In 1984 and 1988, conservatives continued to strengthen their power in the federal government

reagan s supporters
Reagan’s Supporters
  • Reagan and his supporters had been able to construct a large coalition of conservative voters who approved of his policies
    • Businesspeople – supported economic deregulation
    • Southerners – welcomed the limits on federal power
    • Westerners – liked Reagan’s deregulation of the mining, timbering, and grazing laws
    • Reagan Democrats – agreed with limiting the federal government, and felt that the Democratic party had become too liberal
1984 opposition
1984 Opposition
  • In the 1984 election, Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman on a presidential ticket, ran against Reagan and V.P. George H. W. Bush.
  • The economy was still strong – this was a good sign for Reagan and Bush
  • Reagan and Bush won in a landslide
election of 1988
Election of 1988
  • In 1988, with the economy still strong, many people attributed this to Reagan and Bush’s policies
  • Michael Dukakis ran as the Democratic candidate against George Bush, Republican
  • Many people didn’t feel a need for a change, and supported Bush
    • Bush promised to continue the policies of Reagan
    • Bush attacked Dukakis as soft on crime, and unpatriotic
  • Bush won the election with 53% of the popular vote, and 426 electoral votes
  • Bush’s election appeared to many people to be an endorsement of conservative policies
main idea and objectives19
Main Idea and Objectives
  • Main Idea: Presidents Reagan and Bush pursued a conservative agenda that included tax cuts, budget cuts, and increased deficit spending.
  • After this section, we should be able to:
    • Summarize Reagan’s economic programs
    • Describe the changes that occurred in the makeup and decisions of the Supreme Court
wrap up
  • So…
    • One of the things Reagan wanted to do to help the economy was…
      • And he carried this out by…
    • One of the reasons that Ronald Reagan appointed more conservatives to the Supreme Court was that…
      • And the Supreme Court carried out a conservative agenda by…