Ep: 28 Ronald Reagan's Presidency 1981 - 1983 Iwan Morgan
Narrated by Professor Ewan Morgan, Emeritus from University College London, whose book 'Reagan: American Icon' was named one of the best politics books in 2016 by The Times, this episode of "10 American Presidents" delves into the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Beginning his first term on January 20, 1981, Reagan introduced a laissez-faire philosophy and championed a set of neoliberal reforms known as "Reaganomics." His inaugural address famously declared that "government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem." This episode explores key aspects of Reagan's economic policies, including tax cuts, deregulation, and his approach to tackling inflation, unemployment, and government spending. It sheds light on the successes and challenges that marked Reagan's economic legacy during his presidency.
Reagan collaborated with boll weevil Democrats and signed the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, significantly reducing federal income tax rates. He also lifted federal oil and gasoline price controls and later enacted the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 to address growing concerns about the mounting federal debt. Despite criticism from some of his supporters, Reagan defended his preservation of cuts on individual income tax rates. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 further streamlined the tax system, reducing the number of tax brackets and top tax rates.
Facing stagflation upon taking office, Reagan implemented measures to combat inflation and unemployment. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker's tight money policy led to high interest rates, raising unemployment but eventually contributing to a prolonged economic expansion. The appointment of Alan Greenspan as Volcker's successor in 1987 further stabilized the economy, although the Black Monday stock market crash occurred during Greenspan's tenure.
Reagan also tackled government spending, approving cuts to Social Security and later signing amendments to ensure its financial security. He initiated defense spending increases while cutting funding for federal assistance programs like food stamps and unemployment benefits. Deregulation was another significant aspect of Reagan's economic policies. By 1986, almost half of the federal regulations in place in 1981 had been eliminated. The 1982 Garn–St. Germain Depository Institutions Act deregulated savings and loan associations, but this led to riskier activities and contributed to the savings and loan crisis.
As Reagan's economic policies unfolded, the nation experienced a mix of successes and challenges. Economic growth alternated with periods of recession, inflation was combated, and the economy became more deregulated. Reagan's approach to taxes, spending, and regulation left a lasting impact on the American economic landscape.
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