Ronald Reagan’s first term as president consisted of severe economic changes that left America questioning the president’s concern for America and its people. While his “Cold War Rhetoric” and seemingly conservative persona solidified his stance on foreign policy, there was much controversy over his domestic plans. What would he do to solve the economic predicament? Who would benefit from his strategies? Ultimately, by analyzing Reagan’s economic, political, and social preferences, it is apparent that, because his presidency was characterized by its prioritization of wealthy Americans, he saw no need for the social programs that benefitted the poor, thus ending the era of New Deal Liberalism.
Ronald Reagan, believing the social programs set up by the New Deal were useless, set to dismantle them from their core. First, Reagan set up tax cuts and less federal regulation because he believed it would “jump-start the economy by encouraging consumer spending and business investment.” Just like Mitt Romney’s justification for his economic plans in the presidential election, Reagan thought the wealthy were entitled to the most income because they were the ones who most stimulated the economy and drove national revenue. Thus, Reagan, privileging the wealthy, redistributed income from the poor to higher income brackets by enacting both tax and spending cuts.
The income decline, further exacerbated by the loss of factory jobs and rising immigration, caused Reagan to come under fire, not only by the impoverished, but also by the Americans who loathed the rising inflation. Had Reagan not been able to justify his actions, New Deal Liberalism would have remained intact — Americans animosity would have certainly silenced Reagan and his administration. But Reagan, an adroit speaker, subdued the anger and continued to “induce budget deficits to starve spending on social programs.”
Again, we see Reagan’s deft “Cold War Rhetoric” convincing Americans he was their salvation. He saw the various public programs that were imposed to benefit the poor as extraneous — just another burden to the economy and the wealthy. By prioritizing the wealthy in America, Ronald Reagan effectively ended all social programs benefitting the poor, and sought an end to New Deal Liberalism.
1) Boyer, Paul S.. Promises to keep: the United States since World War II. Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath, 1995.