The American Journey Modern Times © 2009

Chapter 17: New Challenges

Chapter Overviews

Section 1: The Reagan Presidency

President Reagan promoted conservative policies, such as lowering taxes and reducing government rules on business. Reagan cut domestic programs, but increased military spending to fight against communism in Latin America and other parts of the world. With the economy booming, Reagan easily won a second term, although it was marred by the Iran-Contra scandal. Talks with the new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev led to a nuclear arms treaty.

Section 2: The Bush Presidency

Significant global events occurred during George H. W. Bush’s presidency, including the collapse of the Soviet Union, and a serious crisis in the Middle East that led to the Persian Gulf War. At home, Bush was challenged by the costly savings & loan crisis, a large federal debt, and a slowing economy. He was able to update the Clean Air Act and improve the civil rights of people with disabilities.

Section 3: A New Century

President Clinton struggled with Republicans in Congress over the budget deficit, and their conservative Contract with America. Despite scandals and the threat of impeachment, Clinton achieved several major economic goals and social reforms. In foreign affairs, Clinton supported free trade, and hosted peace talks with both Middle Eastern and Yugoslav leaders.

In the close 2000 presidential election, George W. Bush was eventually declared the winner. He appointed a diverse cabinet, and launched programs to cut taxes, reform education, and add new military programs. The nation enjoyed economic prosperity, but was deeply divided politically.

Section 4: The War on Terror

On September 11, 2001, the United States suffered the worst terrorist attacks in its history. The attacks elicited a strong patriotic spirit, a greater awareness of Muslim fundamentalist groups, and launched a massive effort to combat terrorism. Bush’s belief that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction led to a U.S. invasion and the overthrow of Iraq’s leader, Saddam Hussein.

During his second term, President Bush lost support as a result of the Iraq war and the government’s inadequate response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Bush appointed conservative judges to the Supreme Court, but Republicans lost control of both Houses of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections.

Section 5: Challenges Ahead

Advances in technology now link the United States to a global economy. The current trade deficit has renewed the debate over free trade. Environmental, technological, immigration, and health care challenges face the United States in the years ahead.

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