Cover image for The Reagan effect : economics and presidential leadership
The Reagan effect : economics and presidential leadership
Sloan, John W., 1940-
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Lawrence, Kan. : University Press of Kansas, [1999]

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xi, 311 pages ; 24 cm
Contrasting evaluations of the Reagan presidency -- Preparing the stage for Reagan: Carter's failure as a political leader -- Ronald Reagan and the conservative movement -- President Reagan's administrative formula for political success (and a few disasters) -- The first year: hit the ground running -- The contributions of tax policy to Reagan's political success -- Unleashing a disaster: The Reagan administration's role in the savings and loan debacle -- The Reagan Administration copes with global interdependence -- Constructing a conservative regime for economic growth --The Reagan presidency, growing inequality, and the American Dream -- Conclusion.
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HC106.8 .S574 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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His message was simple, repeated almost like a mantra: cut taxes, cut spending, reduce bureaucracy, deregulate. His followers saw him as a conservative revolutionary; his detractors saw him as Mr. Magoo. Now that Reagan's achievements and failures have become more obvious, it is time for a new nonpartisan appraisal of his leadership and its impact on the nation. That is precisely what John Sloan delivers.

Sloan focuses especially on the questions raised in the highly polemical debates between conservatives and liberals concerning Reagan's economic policies. He gives equal time to both sides, showing how liberals were wrong in their predictions of gloom, while conservatives continue to grant Reagan more credit and status than he deserves.

The Reagan Effect reveals how the failures of the Carter administration set the stage for Reagan's success, describes how he united diverse conservative factions, and shows how Reagan's personality affected his decision-making style. In examining the economic record, it explains how Reagan persuaded Congress to pass budget and tax cuts while funding a costly defense buildup, and it analyzes the construction of a policy regime that prolonged the growth phase of the business cycle by lowering the threat of inflation. It also provides fresh insights into the Reagan administration's responsibility for the savings and loan disaster and tells how it dealt with trade imbalances.

The political success of Reagan's presidency, observes Sloan, can largely be attributed to the combined efforts of conservatives, pragmatists, and public relations experts. Reagan was a populist anti-intellectual, a former actor who knew how to deliver his message in a way that pleased his audiences, and who never allowed "the facts" to undermine his convictions. Sloan stresses that Reagan's rhetoric functioned to keep consevatives loyal while masking pragmatic compromises.

While Sloan suggests that the net effects of Reagan's presidency were positive, he is not uncritical. He contends that Reagan's ridicule of attempts to promote social justice ultimately diminish his image as a great moral leader. He also observes that effective government--such as relying on the Federal Reserve to control inflation--was an essential component in Reagan's leadership, thus contradicting the anti-government stance of many conservatives. Sloan concludes that Reagan's impact, as opposed to his rhetoric, was not to displace liberalism but to weld conservatism to it, and that neither the era of big government nor the need for effective national public policies is over.

Author Notes

John W. Sloan is professor of political science at the University of Houston

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

The academic community remains polarized in its assessment of U.S. economic performance during the Reagan years. Sloan (political science, Univ. of Houston) attempts to evaluate the Left and Right critiques of Reagan's economic legacy and move beyond the polemics to present a balanced evaluation of those contentious years. Sloan discusses the many pluses (low inflation, revived competitiveness, increased production) and minuses (high deficits, a widening income gap, the S & L crisis) of the Reagan presidency and concludes that Reagan was a successful political leader whose contribution to the U.S. economy was mixed but positive overall. Reagan's failure to deal with issues of social justice diminishes the claim that he was a "moral leader," but, Sloan argues, his political skill in delivering on his agenda made Reagan a successful president. A valuable addition to the debate on the legacy of the Reagan presidency.ÄMichael A. Genovese, Loyola Marymount Univ., Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Sloan (political science, Univ. of Houston) assesses the economic successes and failure of Reagan's administration, depicting Reagan as a conservative version of FDR. The author discusses Reagan's managerial style, which was to emphasize a limited set of goals and leave the detailed pursuit of these objectives to competing members of his administration. He sought to establish a growth-oriented economy defined by lower taxes, smaller and/or more decentralized government, and a lively spirit of entrepreneurship. When programs and policies were successful, he recognized which members of his team supported these initiatives while quickly cutting off those that were counterproductive. Sloan contends that like Roosevelt, Reagan's failures came from failing to recognize and terminate bad policies. Ironically, much of Reagan's success against inflation sprang from Fed chairman Paul Volcker, a Carter appointee who used the Fed's centralized financial controls. Sloan criticizes Reagan for ignoring economic inequality, but economists recognize the trade-off between growth and equality; an entrepreneurial economy fosters growth while increasing income disparities. Reagan's growth-oriented climate of political opinion remains alive in the Clinton presidency. Sloan credits Reagan's long-term success to his enduring public relations efforts and his willingness to compromise when necessary while keeping his ideas in play. Recommended for all levels. R. T. Averitt; Smith College

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
1 Contrasting Evaluations of the Reagan Presidencyp. 1
2 Preparing the Stage for Reagan: Carter's Failure as a Political Leaderp. 27
3 Ronald Reagan and the Conservative Movementp. 53
4 President Reagan's Administrative Formula for Political Success (and a Few Disasters)p. 79
5 The First Year: Hit the Ground Runningp. 103
6 The Contributions of Tax Policy to Reagan's Political Successp. 152
7 Unleashing a Disaster: The Reagan Administration's Role in the Savings and Loan Debaclep. 166
8 The Reagan Administration Copes with Global Interdependencep. 194
9 Constructing a Conservative Regime for Economic Growthp. 225
10 The Reagan Presidency, Growing Inequality, and the American Dreamp. 246
11 Conclusionp. 263
Notesp. 271
Indexp. 299