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.
Following the passage of the 1981 Economic Recovery Tax Act, the United States experienced what came to be known as the Reagan Recession—worse than the economic crisis of the Carter years and in fact the worst recession since the Great Depression. Unemployment peaked at nine million and 17,000 businesses failed. The economy began to recover in 1983.
Reagan’s presidential re-election campaign introduced its “Morning in America” theme, promoting an image of America as hopeful and moving toward a better future. One of the campaign’s advertisements asserted, “It’s morning again in America, and under the leadership of President Reagan, our country is prouder and stronger and better. Why would we ever want to return to where we were less than four short years ago?”
Republican Ronald Reagan defeated incumbent Jimmy Carter for the presidency. Reagan’s campaign was aided by the poor economy and Carter’s failure to successfully put an end to the Iranian hostage crisis.
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 marked the broadest overhauls of the federal tax code in history. It reformed capital gains, deductions, and tax credits, lowered the top income tax rate, and eliminated federal income tax liability for those below the poverty line.