History 65

The Reagan Agenda

March 28, 2006


I. 1970s Economic Policy

1. The Carter Vision? (personnel differences; early stumbles; GOP surge)


            2. Nicaragua, Iran, Afghanistan (sense of defensiveness; Carter response)


3. Deindustrialization and Decline (policy effects; broad patterns; international threats; shattering of Democratic coalition)


            4. Deregulation (regulation ideology and development; emergence of libertarian critique—Kahn; air travel: Airline Deregulation Act, growth of cut-fare airlines, expansions and consolidation; energy: failure of price controls strategy, move to conservation; telecommunications: MCI lawsuit, Wirth and breakup of AT&T, public backlash; long-term effects—competition, cell phones, etc., cable television; high-tech: Apple/IBM battle)


II. The 1980 Election


1. Backlash against Right-Related Liberalism (Schlafly and public response; changing attitudes toward abortion—Catholics, traditionalists, cracks in Democratic coalition; MPLA in Angola and Clark defeat; Panama Canal Treaty fight, SALT II, and reconsidering congressional power; undoing rights-related liberalism: repeal of Hughes-Ryan, busing and affirmative action, Sagebrush Rebellion)


2. The Reagan Revolution (Kennedy, Brown, and Democratic challenges to Carter; Carter holds on; Republican race: Bush surge, Connally collapse, Anderson defection, Reagan nomination; continuing weaknesses—age, radical reputation—Ford plan; Anderson effect; debates; Reagan Democrats; smashing GOP win—presidency, Senate—defeats of McGovern, Church, Nelson, Magnuson; part of international pattern?—Thatcher in Britain, Kohl in West Germany)


III. Reagan’s First Term


            1. Domestic (implementing supply-side economics: tax cut, travails of David Stockman, growth of deficit, Social Security and 1982 elections; challenging the administrative state: role of thinktanks: Federalist Society, Cato Institute, AEI, and changing nature of legal culture; personnel: Gorsuch and EPA; Thomas and EEOC; Donovan and Labor; Watt and Interior)


3. National Security (personnel: Weinberger and defense buildup; Haig and hard-line anti-communism; Kirkpatrick, Helms, and new approach toward Third World; role of Casey; RR speechmaking—“evil empire,” KAL crisis; tilt toward executive power: AWACS sale; Lebanon, Grenada, and limitations of War Powers Act, fight against Clark amendment; Nicaragua background; debate over contra aid—“procedure-itis” and passage of Boland amendment; Casey and contempt of Congress; mining of Nicaragua’s harbors and Boland II)