Ronald W. Reagan

40th President of the United States (1981-1989)

At 69, this former actor and California governor was the oldest man to grab the reins of presidential power and used his philosophy of small government, tax reduction and strong national defense to create a conservative moment that reshaped the political landscape. His policies and folksy communications style connected with an electorate looking for a change. The Reagan campaign received a huge boost from the Carter Administration’s inability to revive a crippled economy with double-digit interest rates and high inflation, and its failure to rescue American hostages in Iran. Shortly after his inauguration, White House receive staff received a report—“The Black Book”—to guide them through the first 100 days. It stated that the Reagan administration had to achieve two major objectives: First, restore stability and confidence, and then communicate a sense of hope. When Reagan survived an assassination attempt in late March—he was shot by a deranged man outside of a Washington Hotel—his popularity soared among large segments of the American public.

Highlights from his first 100 days:

• In the first month of his presidency, Reagan presents a program with more than $41 billion in budget cuts—which included student grants, welfare and jobs programs—and a 30% tax cut over three years. The House and Senate pass a modified version of his plan that would offer the most dramatic restructuring of government since The New Deal.
• He signed an executive order creating a task force charged with identifying corruption and inefficiencies in the federal government.

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