Democratic nominee and Arkansas governor Bill Clinton won the presidential election over incumbent Republican George H. W. Bush and Independent candidate Ross Perot. Though Bush had used the success of the Persian Gulf War as a campaign point, Clinton’s focus on the economy propelled him to the win.
President Reagan ordered “pre-emptive action against terrorist installations” in the bombing of Libya in response to a terrorist attack in West Berlin, allegedly perpetrated by Libya and its leader Muammar Qaddafi, that killed an American soldier.
Ronald Reagan signed the Economic Recovery Tax Act, a major tax-reform bill based on “supply side economics,” cutting taxes and regulations. The act implemented an across-the-board tax cut for individuals, reduced the maximum income tax rate, lowered capital gains and estate taxes, and expanded individual retirement accounts.
At a summit in Washington, DC, President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, agreeing to the destruction of all US and Soviet intermediate-range nuclear and conventional missiles and providing for on-site weapons inspections.
Members of the CIA and the National Security Council, including several top-level Reagan advisers, were tried and found guilty of violating the Boland Amendment and other federal laws in order to support and arm the anti-Communist rebel Contras in Nicaragua without Congress’s knowledge. Though Reagan claimed no direct involvement in a secret plan to arm the Contras using profits made from arms sold to Iran, the Iran-Contra affair blemished the President’s administration.
Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev met in Reykjavik, Iceland, to discuss nuclear weapons and disarmament, though the talks collapsed when Reagan refused to abandon his Strategic Defense Initiative.
Ronald Reagan made a controversial visit to a military cemetery at Bitburg, Germany. Nazi SS soldiers were among the dead, and the President’s visit sparked protests from both Americans and Germans. Reagan, who also visited the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, justified the visit as an attempt to strengthen relations with Germany.