Table of Contents
I. The Reagan Coalition
II. Reagan in the White House
III. "Supply Side" Economics
IV. Fiscal Crisis
V. Reagen and the World
VI. Sources

I. The Reagan Coalition
Reagan owed his election to widespread disillusionment with Carter and to the crises and disappointments that many voters, perhaps unfairly, associated with him. The Reagan coalition included a relatively small but highly influential group of wealthy Americans associated with the corporate and financial world-the kind of people who had dominated American politics and government through much of the nation’s history until the New Deal began to challenge their preeminence. A second element of the Reagan coalition was even smaller, but also disproportionately influential: a group of intellectuals commonly known as “neo-conservatives,” who gave to the right something it had not had in many years-a firm base among “opinion leaders”, people with access to the most influential public forums for ideas. Neo-conservatives were sympathetic to the complaints and demands of capitalists, but their principal concern was to reassert legitimate authority and reaffirm Western democratic, anticommunists’ values and
II. Reagan in the White House
Reagan was the master of television, a gifted public speaker, and -in public at least- rugged, fearless, and seemingly impervious to danger or misfortune. He spent his many vacations on a California ranch, where he chopped wood and rode horses. At times, the president revealed a startling ignorance about the nature of his own policies or the actions of his subordinates.
III. "Supply-Side" Economics
Reagan’s 1980 campaign for the presidency had promised, among other things, to restore the economy to health by a bold experiment that became known as “supply-side” economics or, to some, “Reaganomics”. In its first months in office, accordingly, the new administration hastily assembled a legislative program based on the supply-side idea. The recession convinced many people, including some conservatives that the Reagan economic program failed. The gross national product had grown 3.6 percent in a year, the largest increase since the 1970s. The economy continued to grow, and both inflation and unemployment remained low through most of the decade. A worldwide “energy glut” and the virtual collapse of the OPEC cartel had produced at least a temporary end to the inflationary pressures of spiraling fuel costs.
IV. The Fiscal Crisis
By the mid-1980s, this growing fiscal crisis had become one of the central issues in American politics. Throughout the 1980s, the annual budget deficit consistently exceeded $100 billion. The 1981 tax cuts, the largest in American history, contributed to the deficit. There were reductions in funding for food stamps; a major cut in federal
Salt Talks
Salt Talks
subsidies for low-income housing; strict new limitations on Medicare and Medicaid payments; reductions in student loans, school lunches, and other educational programs; and an end to many forms of federal assistance to the states and cities-which helped precipitate years of local fiscal crises as well. By the late 1980s, many fiscal conservatives were calling for a constitutional amendment mandating a balanced budget-a provision the president himself claimed to
V. Reagan and the World
Determined to restore American pride and prestige in the world, he argued that the United States should once again become active and assertive in opposing communism and in supporting friendly governments whatever their internal policies. The president spoke harshly of Soviet regime accusing it of sponsoring world terrorism and declaring that any armaments negotiations must be linked to negotiations on Soviet behavior in other areas. Although the president had long denounced the SALT II arms control treaty as unfavorable to the United States, he continued to honor it provisions. The Soviet Union claimed that the new program would elevate the arms race to new and more dangerous levels and insisted that any arms control agreement begin with an American abandonment of SDI. The New Policy became known as the Reagan Doctrine, and it meant, above all, a new American activism came in Latin America. The Reagan administration spoke bravely about its resolve to punish terrorism; and at one point in 1986, the president ordered American planes to bomb site in Tripoli, the capital of Libya, whose controversial leader was widely believed to be a leading sponsor of terrorism.
VI. The Election of 1984
Reagan was victorious in the election winning 59% of the vote, carrying every state but Mondale's native Minnesota and the District of Columbia. The election of 1984 was the first campaign of the Cold War.
VII. Sources
American History, Brinkley