Ronald Reagan

Ronald Wilson Reagan

Ronald Reagan had a very successful life. He was the 40th president of the United States (1981-1989). He was an actor for 30 years before he became involved with politics and starred in more than 50 movies. Reagan was born on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois.

Early Life

Reagan was raised by his traveling shoe salesman father John Reagan, and his mother Nelle. John was an alcoholic and was saved from the Great Depression by the Works Progress Administration. Reagan was strongly influenced by his mother, who taught him to read at an early age.
After High School, Ronald Reagan won a Scholarship to Eureka College in Peoria, Illinois. He was very active at Eureka. He majored in economics, student body president, captain of the swimming team, and was on the football. He became interested in acting, but after his graduation in 1932 the only job available that was related to show biz was a local radio sportscaster. In 1936 he took the job as a sportscaster for WHO radio station in Des Moines, Iowa.
Reagan moved to Hollywood in 1937 and began a 25 year acting career. Some of his noted movies were Knute Rockne-All American, King?s Row, and Bedtime for Bozo. During his acting career, Reagan was elected as the president of the Screen Actors Guild (the union for film actors) six times. He married Jane Wyman, had two children, but divorced her eight years later. He married Nancy Davis in 1952 and they had two more children. As president of the union, he tried to remove communists from the movie industry.
Reagan?s first national political scene was when he did a speech supporting Republican presidential candidate Senator Barry Goldwater. Even though Goldwater lost the election, he brought in money and praise from fellow Republicans around the country.

Governor of California

Reagan decided to run for Governor of California in 1966 and defeated Edmund G. Brown, Sr., by nearly one million votes. His two terms as governor were tough because six of the eight years he served the legislature was controlled by Democrats, him being a Republican. As governor, Reagan became known as a conservative politician who wanted to restrict government involvement in economy and society.
Ronald Reagan made a last-minute effort to get the 1968 Republican presidential nomination. He was defeated by Richard Nixon who became president. Reagan also tried to win the presidential nomination again in 1976 but lost to Gerald Ford.

The Election of 1980

Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy in November
1979, after making political friends at party fund-raising dinners around the country. He easily defeated the other nominees for the Republican nomination. He chose Gerald Ford as his vice-president. But when Ford?s negotiators proposed that the vice-president should share presidential powers, Reagan chose George Bush instead.
During the campaign against Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter, the biggest issue was the economy. Reagan blamed Carter for weaknesses in foreign policy and a weak army. During the time of the election Reagan had great public support, which made it easier to push his program through congress.

The Presidency

When Reagan became president he started out in a recession. 11 percent of the work force was unemployed in fall, 1982. This recession reduced inflation significantly, but the interest rates remained high.
During the next two years the economic recovery began. The unemployment came down, but thousands of factory jobs disappeared. The new jobs, which were mostly in service industries, paid less, leaving inflation low.

Domestic Affairs

Economic Policy- Reagan?s economic policy worked on the claim that investment in industry and spending by consumers would eventually increase tax revenues. With this policy, he persuaded Congress to pass the Economic Recovery Tax Act. This enacted tax cuts that benefited upper-income taxpayers and large corporations. He also made cuts in spending for job training, college loans, food and medical programs, payments for those with disabilities, child daycare centers, and centers for the elderly.
Reagan relaxed environmental and safety standards and helped struggling savings and loan institution. He also believed that labor unions interfered with economic efficiency. When 11,800 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers went on strike in August 1981 wanting higher pay and a shorter work week. Reagan just dismissed all 11,800 strikers. All of Reagan?s actions fueled a 5-year stock market increase.
During his run, he had very high military bills and was forced to borrow money from different countries, especially Japan. The huge deficit