A Look Back at the Archives: Reagan’s Honeymoon and the First Reagan Tax Cuts

August 28, 2009

With the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy, a long-time advocate for health care reform, in the news, there are political pundits on both sides of the aisle asking whether or not Sen. Kennedy’s death (or celebration of his life) should be inserted into the contentious health care debate.

This issue made me think back to a high school history class where I remember the teacher saying that the attempted assassination on Pres. Reagan in March 1981 helped rally support for his early policies, including his signature first policy: the Kemp-Roth tax cuts enacted in August 1981. So I did a quick Proquest search of the Washington Post archives and found an interesting article by David Broder, which assessed the impact that the incident would have on the chances of Reagan’s policies passing (most notably his tax cuts). Although the headline of the article was “Rise in Reagan’s Popularity Seen, With Little Imapct on Hill Prospects,” the article quotes multiple sources that said the incident would actually increase the chances of Reagan’s tax cut passing.

Loyd Hackler, a former Lyndon Johnson aide now representing the American Retail Federation, said he had though Reagan “was beginning to lose the real good momentum” behind his program last week and “was in bad shape on the tax bill….I think he’s going to get it back because of this….The members will find Ronald Reagan strengthened, and even if he can’t get out there himself, conveying his wishes from the sickbed will be powerful stuff.”

And Rep. Tony Coelho (Calif.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the wounding of Reagan means “an extension of the honeymoon by three to five months…and enough pressure on Republicans to go along on the tax bill that he might win that one, too.”

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