Read the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation's lips. You, George H. W. Bush, are a recipient of the 2014 Profiles in Courage Award.
The Foundation said the Bush patriarch earned this year's honor for the political courage he demonstrated as 41st President when he agreed to a 1990 budget compromise that reversed his 1988 campaign pledge not to raise taxes.
That move, following his famous "Read my lips: no new taxes" declaration when he accepted the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, is seen by many as a major reason he lost his reelection bid in 1992 to the Democratic candidate Bill Clinton.
"In his first term in office, President George H. W. Bush risked his reputation and ultimately his political career by forging an important compromise on the budget in 1990 that moved our country forward, and should not be forgotten," said Jack Schlossberg, JFK's grandson and a member of the Profile in Courage Award committee.
Courageous tax stand: In the official award announcement, the Foundation recounted the elder Bush's tax change of heart:
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 which included spending cuts and tax increases aimed at reducing the deficit by approximately $500 billion over the following five years. The 1990 bipartisan budget agreement 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. In order to reach the deal, Bush agreed to a tax increase as part of the compromise, and he was pilloried by conservatives for doing so. Although he recognized the 1990 budget deal might doom his prospects for reelection, 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.
Second 2014 awardee: Paul W. Bridges, the former mayor of Uvalda, Ga., also was tapped for a Profiles in Courage award this year.
As the city's top leader in 2011, Bridges joined a federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU to stop the implementation of a state law that authorized police to demand immigration documents from persons stopped for alleged traffic violations. Opponents of the law argued that it was designed to drive undocumented individuals out of Georgia and criminalized Georgians who knowingly interacted with undocumented individuals.
Bridges, a Republican who was elected mayor in 2009, was the only politician to join the suit. In doing so, he was roundly criticized by anti-immigration partisans around the country and lost popular support at home.
Basis in book: The annual JFK Library Foundation award was created in 1989 and is named for President Kennedy's 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, which tells the stories of eight U.S. senators who took stands for unpopular positions.
Bush and Bridges will receive their awards in a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on May 4.
Congratulations to both men for the well-deserved honor.
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