BOSTON (Reuters) - Former U.S. President George H. W. Bush was pilloried in 1990 when he broke his “Read my lips: no new taxes” campaign pledge, and may have lost his chance at re-election as a result. But this year he is getting an award for the decision.
The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation on Thursday announced the 41st U.S. president, father of former President George W. Bush, is co-recipient of the 2014 Profile in Courage Award for making the politically difficult choice to raise taxes two years into his first term.
“Although he recognized the 1990 budget deal might doom his prospects for re-election, he did what he thought was best for the country and has since been credited with helping to lay the foundation of the economic growth of the 1990s that followed,” the foundation said in a press release.
The 1990 budget deal with congressional Democrats slashed a ballooning deficit by approximately $500 billion over the following five years through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, the foundation said.
Bush lost the 1992 presidential election to Democrat Bill Clinton, though his son gained the White House eight years later and served two terms.
Paul Bridges, the former mayor of Uvalda, Georgia, was the other co-recipient of the award for helping stop a law aimed at driving out illegal immigrants in 2011. The law would have allowed police to demand documents demonstrating immigration status during traffic stops.
“As a result of his decision to publicly oppose the law, Bridges withstood scathing criticism from anti-immigration partisans around the country, and lost popular support at home,” the foundation said.
The award is given every year to public servants who have made a decision of conscience without regard to personal or professional consequences.
Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Scott Malone and Dan Grebler