Study Tool: Chronological Events of the 1980-1992 Era 




Presidential Election/ Event

Beyond America

Foreign Policy

Government Institutions

US Economic Development

Issue/Organization Development

Political Party Development





Roe v. Wade


“Right to life” groups [1]; others[2]






Hyde Amendment[3]










Moral Majority est.[4]








TV and[5]




Failed attempt to rescue Iranian hostages







Ronald W. Reagan vs. Jimmy Carter








TV and[9]

Party strength[10]




Nicaragua; Sandanistas[11]

Social Security cut attempted[12]


AIDS status[13]

A Nation at Risk[14]






FCC deregulates radio[15]


Limbaugh and Stern[16]




Release of Iranian hostages on Inauguration Day







Assassination attempt











Supreme Court: Sandra Day O’Connor









PATCO strike, dismissal[17]







Deregulation of savings and loans[18]






Br: Falklands War[20]








Israel: Invades Lebanon













Democratic increase in House



Lebanon: Terrorist attack[21]



Poverty status[22]

Family status[23]





Star Wars: SDI[24]








US: Invades Grenada








Nicaragua: Sandanistas[25]






Ronald W. Reagan vs. Walter Mondale[28]













AIDS status[29]














Supreme Court: William Rehnquist, Chief Justice

Tax changes[31]







Challenger disaster[32]















CIA/NSC covert action: Iran-Contra exposed[34]









FCC: Ends Fairness Doctrine[35]








Supreme Court: Bork[36]













George H. Bush vs. Michael Dukakis






TV and “Willie Horton”[38]








“The vision thing”[39]



Communist breakup[40]



Savings and loan collapse[41]

Technical status[42]






Supreme Court: David Souter















China: Tiananmen Square[43]







Iraq: Invades Kuwait[45]













Minor Republican losses




US: Noriega[46]







Russia: Coup attempt[47]

US: recognizes Bosnia[48]

Supreme Court: Clarence Thomas[49]








2nd, Coalition: Operation Desert Storm[50]

1st, Congress on Iraq[51]











AIDS status[53]



Copyright C. J. Bibus, Ed.D. 2003-2010


WCJC Department:

History – Dr. Bibus

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[1] Roman Catholic church, Protestant evangelicals

[2] Operation Rescue and clinic blockades; bombings, assassination of doctors

[3] Banned Medicaid paying for abortions

[4] Rev. Jerry Falwell, VA

[5] Pat Robertson, 700 Club, Christian Broadcasting Network (CABLE); Jimmy and Tammy Baker, PTL (Praise the Lord) – later fraud convictions; Jimmy Swaggart – later sexual misconduct

[6] Inflation = 12%; unemployment = 7%+; prime interest = near 20%; national debt $74B (Ayers says $908B on p. 859)

[7] “Supply-side economics” – reduce federal tax rates

[8] “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

[9] “Great Communicator,” Teleprompter with prepared text; “packag[ing]” of the President by James Baker (chief of staff), Michael Deaver (media), Edwin Meese (policy, later during Iran-Contra, attorney general), Nancy Reagan (with astrologer)

[10] Senate 53 to 46, 1st time since 1954

[11] Reagan opposes, subsidy of rebellion against using El Salvador bases. House of Representatives rejects this use of funds. Also, see 1988.

[12] Spring, attempt to cut early retiree benefits; failed in Congress. Fall, panel to investigate problem. Fall, 1982, changes made to restore finances.

[13] c. 1984 = 3,700 US deaths to date

[14] On failure of public education

[15] Federal Communications Commission ended limits on commercials and requirement for public affairs programs and community surveys.

[16] Rise of Rush Limbaugh in 1990s, est. 13M listeners; of Howard Stern

[17] Professional Air Traffic Controller strike; back-to-work orders; failure to obey meant dismissal

[18] For the crash of this system at taxpayer expense, see the 1st Bush administration.

[19] National debt = $128B (up 1.7 X of 1980 debt of $74B) – Note the increasing rise of national debt shown in other Status items.

[20] Argentina invaded this former British colony. Britain crushes the Argentine army; increases Thatcher’s popularity.

[21] US forces in multinational peacekeeping. Terrorist bomb kills 239 US Marines; US Marines withdrawn.

[22] Bureau of Census: 13M children under 6 in poverty.
Note: end of 1980s = 11X money for reducing poverty for children instead shifted to elderly, an increasingly more organized voting block.

[23] 1970 = 3.8M single parent families; 1992 = 10.5M

[24] Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). To stop – theoretically and never proved – missiles before they could hit the US.

[25] US-supported Contras not succeeding against Sandanistas; El Salvador right wing’s death squads. Congress does 2nd amendment US funding of Contras.

[26] Phil Gramm (TX), Warren Rudman (PA), and Fritz Hollings (SC) – Bill that automatically lowers federal expenditure across the board. To quote Ayers, “[i]t promised to lower deficits without requiring lawmakers to choose [and publicly vote on] among tough options.” (p. 866)

[27] National debt = $186B

[28] 1st woman candidate for Vice President, Geraldine Ferraro, Representative for the state of New York

[29] 1985 = 6,700 US deaths; 1987 = 15,500 per year

[30] Among 1980s social changes = young urban professionals (yuppies) and “image is everything” (Andre Agassi) culture.

[31] Lowered tax rate

[32] Causes = systemic inattention, cost-cutting and schedule-making as goals, over-confidence

[33] 2nd of 2 positive meetings although no substantive changes

[34] National Security Council (NSC) used money from sale of arms to Iran as part of deal to free hostages (this time held in Lebanon). President Reagan approved. Profit from sale went to Nicaraguan contras (US-supported group established to try to stop Sandanistas). Exposed by CIA plane shot down by Sandanistas. Participants: Oliver North, John Poindexter (NSC advisor). Congressional immunity and publicity of hearings resulted in limited consequences for participants. Issues such as fear of a repeat of the impeachment of a president meant no consequences for the President.

[35] What it used to do: Fairness Doctrine had required any broadcast (since public airwaves) to present both sides of opposing arguments.

[36] Robert Bork’s confirmation blocked over such prior positions as opposing Roe v. Wade. Anthony Kennedy later confirmed for spot.

[37] National debt = $156B

[38] Horton = escaped black convict, rape in another state used as TV commercial against Dukakis, MA governor.

[39] Bush phrase about goals that came to haunt him

[40] 1989 = free elections, Poland

[41] Deregulation in Reagan’s term results in $500B cost to taxpayers.

[42] Computer revolution from 1981 IBM PC (personal computer) to 1983 Microsoft Windows to 1984 Apple Macintosh. Sales = 1983 of 20K purchased/yr. to 500K/yr. Internet revolution from 1969 Pentagon project to 1980s usernet and email. Cable revolution beginning with 1981 MTV (Music Television) and Ted Turner’s CNN (Cable News Network).

[43] US, limited response

[44] National debt in 1990 = $222B;1990 announcement of new taxes

[45] Note that in spring 1990 US ambassador told Saddam Hussein US had “no position” on his issues with Kuwait.

[46] US sends troops into Panama after Noriega, a former informant for the US on drugs. 1992 he is convicted of drug traffic.

[47] Attempted coup against Gorbachev. Yeltsin blocks, then rises to temporary power.

[48] Yugoslavian civil war: Serbs vs. Bosnians, Croats, Slovenes. US recognition of Bosnia as a sovereign nation; has later implications for the Clinton administration.

[49] Confirmation marred by Anita Hill scandal on sexual harassment while working at Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

[50] Ground action – 02/24/1991. Defeat of Hussein, but not removed from power.

[51] Following UN Security Council resolution on Iraq leaving Kuwait by 01/15/1991, Congress votes for use of US troops.

[52] National debt = $297B. General in 1990s = “downsizing”; decrease in middle class jobs and rise of service sector jobs at low pay and no or few benefits; “generation X” of 75M children of first wave of baby boomers, disillusioned.

[53] Research funding by 1992. 1992 = new cases 45K; 1993 = 83K.