1980: remembered for Ronald Reagan, materialism, consumerism, rise of the "yuppie", explosion of Blockbuster movies, new cable networks, and new artists

  •  New wave music was already well into its dominance in some circles and, yet, disco was still not quite entirely "dead." Though Calvin Klein jeans were becoming popular, flared pant cuffs could still be seen hanging off the knees of Americans. While some new American cars still measured rather close to twenty feet long bumper-to-bumper, compact foreign cars were increasingly making a presence on American roads.
  • Video games, aerobics, minivans, camcorders, and talk shows became part of our lives. The decade began with double-digit inflation, Reagan declared a war on drugs, Kermit didn't find it easy to be green, hospital costs rose, we lost many, many of our finest talents to AIDS which before the decade ended spread to black and Hispanic women, and unemployment rose. 
  • On the bright side, the US Constitution had its 200th birthday, Gone with the Wind turned 50, ET phoned home, and in 1989 Americans gave $115,000,000,000 to charity. 

 1980: Ronald Reagan attacked the incumbent, Jimmy Carter, for the performance of the economy, which was left in shambles

  •  After a failed presidency marked by disasters in the economy and foreign affairs, and poor leadership, Carter was defeated for reelection in 1980 by Ronald Reagan, as the nation moved sharply more conservative.
  • On taking office Carter proposed radical energy programs, redistributive tax reform, public campaign financing, a consumer protection agency, labor law reform, and enactment of the Equal Rights Amendment. He fought with fellow Democrats in Congress and achieved little or nothing. Meanwhile "stagflation" hit the economy hard, as energy shortages, slow growth, escalating inflation and very high interest rates sapped the economy.
  • Carter inherited a recession when taking office. First he tried to reduce unemployment by both increasing government spending and cutting taxes. However, when inflation skyrocketed in 1978 he changed his mind. He delayed tax cuts and vetoed the spending programs that he himself proposed to the Congress. Carter then tried to ease inflation by reducing money supply and raising interest rates. All of his efforts proved to be unsuccessful. Inflation and interest rates soon reached their highest levels since World War II.
     

1980: Reagan turned the economy back around for the better with significant changes

  • Reagan promised to reduce the growth of government spending, tax rates on both income and capital gains, regulation, and inflation by contolling the growth of the money supply
  • Reaganomics was based on the theory of supply-side economics, which states that tax cuts give workers more money to spend, creating demand. Tax cuts give companies more cash to hire new workers and expand their businesses. Eventually, economic growth expands the tax base enough to replace the government revenue initially lost from the tax cuts.
  •  Inflation was tamed -- thanks to monetary, not fiscal policy. Reagan's tax cuts did end the recession. However, government spending wasn't lowered, just shifted from domestic programs to defense.

1981: Reagan was shot only two months after his inaugaration on March 30

  • President Ronald Reagan was shot in the chest at the side entrance of the Hilton Washington hotel by John Hinckley Jr. Reagan was walking to his limousine after a speech to AFL-CIO leaders when Hinckley, 25, who was standing among a group of reporters, fired six shots, hitting Reagan and three others.  
  • Hinckley shot James Brady in the head, inflicting permanent brain damage on Reagan’s press secretary. Timothy McCarthy, a Secret Service agent, was shot in the side, and Thomas Delahanty, a District of Columbia policeman, was shot in the neck. Both recovered from their wounds. Hinckley was quickly overpowered and pinned against a wall while Reagan, still unaware that he had been shot, was shoved into his limousine by an agent and rushed to George Washington University Hospital.
  • The .22-caliber bullet collapsed Reagan’s left lung and just missed his heart. Remarkably, the president, who was 70 at the time, walked unassisted into the emergency room. As he was being prepped for what turned out to be two hours of life-saving surgery.
     

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