Section One

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June 28, 1990: “Anyhow, It Got Us Across”
Washington Post

“Read My Lips, No New Taxes!”—perhaps no line from the last twenty years of presidential campaigns is more memorable. When George H. W. Bush uttered these words, he secured the base of the Republican Party and cast himself in the image of the popular outgoing Ronald Reagan. However, by 1990 the United States had been running budget deficits for more than twenty years and record deficits for nearly ten. To combat what was increasingly seen as a crisis, Bush agreed to a compromise budget with the Democratic-controlled Congress, encompassing spending cuts and significant tax increases.

His decision caused a revolt on the Republican right and charges of lying from Democrats. Herblock’s cartoon on this subject is in some ways prophetic, because while the “bridge” got Bush to the presidency in 1988, the bridge was out when he came up for reelection in 1992.