George H.W. Bush

There is nothing more fulfilling than to serve your country and your fellow citizens and to do it well.

One of the most famous quotes of President H.W. Bush’s time in office is “Read my lips: No new taxes.” But in 1990, with the federal deficit at $200 billion and the Congressional Budget Office suggesting it could double, President Bush negotiated with congressional Democrats to enact a budget deal that included spending cuts and tax increases. The move would aim to reduce the deficit by approximately $500 billion over the following five years. The bipartisan budget agreement also set annual limits on discretionary spending by Congress on defense, domestic programs and international affairs. It also, for the first time, created “pay as you go” rules for entitlements and taxes.

President Bush was pilloried by conservatives for agreeing to a tax increase as part of the compromise. Although he recognized the 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.

“At age 89 and ⅞, let me assure you kind words really do matter,” President Bush said at his Profile in Courage Award ceremony. “Thank you again for remembering what our team tried to do, lo, those many years ago.”