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George H.W. Bush honored for courage with 1990 tax hikes

George H.W. Bush Honored For Reversal On 'No New Taxes' Promise

By Elizabeth Barber

BOSTON (Reuters) - Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush showed courage in breaking his "read my lips: no new taxes" campaign pledge to broker a 1990 budget compromise that may have cost him re-election two years later, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation said on Sunday.

The organization honored the 41st U.S. president with its 2014 Profile in Courage Award, praising the Republican leader's "decision to put country above party and political prospects" in the deal with congressional Democrats.

"America's gain was President Bush's loss," Jack Schlossberg, grandson of former president John F. Kennedy and a member of the award committee, said during a ceremony at the library in Boston.

Bush did not attend the event. Granddaughter Lauren Bush Lauren, niece of former president George W. Bush, accepted the award on her grandfather's behalf.

"Candidly speaking, my grandfather did not want to raise taxes in 1990," she said. "But in our constitutional system of governance, Congress also gets a say - and more than that, he felt he owed the American people action and results."

The foundation also honored Paul W. Bridges, a former Georgia mayor, as co-recipient of the award for putting his mayoral career on the line to oppose a 2011 immigration bill aimed at pushing undocumented immigrants out of his state.

The awards, presented during the mid-term election season, appeared to offer a subtle critique of sitting congressional Republicans, who last fall forced a budget impasse and a 16-day government shutdown to avoid funding President Barack Obama's healthcare bill.

"We celebrate today courage in a moment of profound change and challenge in a country gripped by partisan gridlock and inaction," Schlossberg said.

In September 1990, two years into George H.W. Bush's first term, the United States was saddled with a $200 billion budget deficit. Months of partisan wrangling over possible tax increases and spending cuts had ended in a stalemate.

Despite the potential political backlash, Bush announced a compromise with congressional Democrats that would cut $500 billion from the deficit in five years, in part by raising "luxury taxes" on items including yachts and pricey cars, among other tax hikes.

"The time for politics and posturing is over," Bush said in an October 1990 speech. "The time to come together is now."

The budget passed, but Bush's concession on a tax increase rankled members of his party and stood at odds with his "no new taxes" campaign promise. He lost re-election to Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992.

Bush thanked the foundation for the award in a statement read by his granddaughter. He joked he had skipped the event due to suspicions that broccoli might be served, a nod to his infamous ban on the vegetable he disliked from Air Force One.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Marguerita Choy)

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coyotetom May 05 2014 at 3:29 PM


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4 replies
Brian Hope May 06 2014 at 10:59 PM

George H. W. Bush was the last Republican for whom I ever cast a vote. At the 1992 G.O.P. convention, Patrick Buchanan's speech (which I still consider the true birth of the Tea Party political insurgency) convinced me that I could never vote for another Republican ever again (especially in Texas). And Dubya? In my opinion, as Presidents go, he was not fit to tie his father's shoelaces.

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drkcaj May 05 2014 at 4:20 PM

What a load of nonsense! Had Bush the courage to call George Mitchell's bluff and shut down the gov't when Mitchell would not allow a tax bill that had a capital gains tax cut and was favored by a majority in the Senate, he would have kept his promise, ignited an economic rally and probably been reelected. Instead he broke his word, prolonged the recession and opened the door for Clinton. He committed political suicide by not keeping his word and the country is poorer because of it.

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1 reply
tmm77625 drkcaj May 05 2014 at 4:36 PM

Yeah, it's funny how the Dems never admit Clinton cut capital gains taxes, which then spurred the economic boom in the late 90's.

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drusus5845 May 05 2014 at 4:03 PM

I believe that courage, statesmanship, polish and integrity marked the man for posterity. I voted for him both terms but it seems that those attributes are not genetic. His son has to have been, with the nut Cheney, the most despised, incompetent president in our history. The Supreme Court made a tragic mistake when they put him in office with his evil vice.

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2 replies
sakreyer drusus5845 May 05 2014 at 4:14 PM

I think you are grossly mistaken... you obviously are not paying attention to the current president the most that corrupt executive branch, arrogant, and inept person to ever occupy the seat.

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2 replies
sam54ct sakreyer May 05 2014 at 4:31 PM

The honor of most crooked goes to Reagan, cut taxes, then increased them 7 years in a row. Whoe policy caused "Black Moday" and 10.6% unemployment, dropping below 7% only in his last year. LEtting a hero take the dive for his Iran-Contra mess. Found to be complicit with the "Keating Five" his buddies who almost killed off the Credit Union industry. Converted Federal employee's from fixed pensions to Social Security and 401k plans, which led many Fortune 500 corporations to take the same action, dropping fixed pensions from 47% of companies, to 12% of companies. And the list goes on forever.

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Oscar sakreyer May 05 2014 at 4:39 PM

No, the last one was much worse

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joper201 drusus5845 May 05 2014 at 4:17 PM

Your partisan ignorance is obvious in your statement about the Supreme Court.

The U S Supreme Court did not "put him office".

The Supreme Court FORCED the Florida Election commission that seems foreign to the new obama democrat party.


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1 reply
jerry joper201 May 05 2014 at 4:31 PM

Throwing out ballots is not exactly following law

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ADMIRAL May 05 2014 at 4:01 PM

nice pic, Bush sweating, couldn't find anything more unpresidential? like the shadowed unshaven sneering Nixon pic that the left trots out every now and then to remind the peeps what sneaky rascally republicans really look like. U people bore the living sh-t out of me.........!

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1 reply
ADMIRAL ADMIRAL May 05 2014 at 4:28 PM

by people i mean the lame stream media propaganda machine....!

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crowland503 May 05 2014 at 4:31 PM

Only in America can a President lie to the people, raise taxes, and get rewarded for courage! There's no courage--not even a drop of sweat--since politicians are born liars once they slither from their cribs! You want courage, see the Cowardly Lion; until then, the house should had fallen upon Bush in Oz!

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kpatterson711 May 05 2014 at 3:44 PM

Ronald Reagan, GHW Bush, GW Bush........ Sure was nice when we had a classy president and a classy first lady. The current occupants of the White House sure don't meet the grade. Even former Democratic presidents ( except Slick Willie perhaps) had a helluva lot more of my respect than the current liar we have. I used to vote Democratic too....guess I learned my lesson huh?

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3 replies
larrystenli May 05 2014 at 3:43 PM

if broken promises makes a great president then BoBo the clown must be a god!!!!!

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apollospeaks88 May 05 2014 at 3:42 PM


had a contractionary effect on the economy and pushed it into a recession which cost him his reelection in 1992. Ironically by election day the recession was over and the high tech revolution began a great boom.


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1 reply
brucenordstrom1 apollospeaks88 May 05 2014 at 4:20 PM

Which Slick Willie claims responsibility for, despite having had nothing to do with it.

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David S. May 05 2014 at 3:36 PM

I doubt it cost Mr. Bush re-election......by 1992, the GOP had ruled the White House for 12 years. American folks get antsy, and wanted a change of direction. That is all, it wasn't to trash G.H.W. Bush...

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1 reply
pepperoni0 David S. May 05 2014 at 3:54 PM

What cost the election in 1992 wasn't Bush's broken promise about raising taxes. Ross Perot took away too many conservative votes from the GOP.

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