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How have Reagan's policies affected the government?

President Reagan's policies sparked a major debate about the role of government. He favored less government intervention, promoting free enterprise and individual initiative. However, his defense spending and tax cuts led to a larger budget deficit, a problem he aimed to solve. This issue continues to be relevant today.

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Video transcript

- [Man] How have President Reagan's policies affected the government since he left office? - What Ronald Reagan did was set up a titanic debate really between those who believed in the new deal view of government which was that it was there to help those who could not help themselves and manage an enormous economy and the enormous life of the world's only superpower or at least one of the two superpowers and what that, on the new deal style, that was what government should do. On the Reagan side, he said get government out of the way and let American free enterprise and individual initiative create greatness in America again and so that was just setting up that idealogic conversation now continued all the way through New Gingrich's revolution in 1994 and his clashes with Bill Clinton. They were over the same kinds of things that Ronald Reagan had brought into the debate when he was elected in 1980. Now the challenge was that Reagan's defense spending and his tax cuts ballooned the deficit and what that ended up, what ended up happening is that the thing he had come to Washington to try to solve, which was the budget deficit had actually gotten bigger, and so Reagan, who came to town as a tax cutter ended up ultimately having to raise taxes to solve some of those problems of having a large deficit and why is that bad? Because deficits lead to inflation and inflation is what was strangling America when Reagan came into office. Inflation was very high and unemployment was high and so, his solution to it while it kicked off a strong economic recovery also ballooned the deficit which is a problem that is still one they wrestle with today.