© 2023 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

George H.W. Bush Given Courage Award For 1990 Tax Hikes

Accepting the 2014 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award on behalf of her grandfather former President George H.W. Bush, Lauren Bush Lauren, center, and fellow Award recipient Paul W. Bridges, the former mayor of Uvalda, Ga., right, hold the awards as they stand with Jack Schlossberg, left, grandson of President John F. Kennedy.
Gretchen Ertl

During his campaign for president in 1988, George H.W. Bush made what's arguably one of the most memorable campaign promises: "Read my lips," he said. "No new taxes."

But as 1990 came around, with the economy still sluggish, he agreed to a bipartisan budget deal that reneged on that promise by raising taxes.

For that politically costly decision, Bush was honored on Sunday with the John F. Kennedy Profile In Courage Award.

The Boston Globe reports:

" 'George Bush did the right thing for the country, and it's nice to see people are beginning to appreciate it,' John H. Sununu, who was Bush's chief of staff, said at the ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Dorchester.

"Andrew H. Card Jr., who was deputy chief of staff, said the former president's willingness to break his no-new-taxes pledge should serve as a beacon for current members of Congress who refuse to negotiate.

" 'We have to be careful with absolutes,' Card said. 'People who are stuck with an absolute view of the world fail to recognize certain realities in the world. We want our government to work well.' "

Jack Schlossberg, son of Caroline Kennedy, presented the award.

"America's gain was President Bush's loss, and his decision to put country above party and political prospects makes him an example of a modern profile in courage that is all too rare," Schlossberg said, according to The Associated Press.

During the ceremony, Paul W. Bridges, the former mayor of Uvalda, Ga., was also honored for "risking his mayoral career with his decision to publicly oppose a controversial immigration law in Georgia."

Correction at 10:44 a.m. ET. An earlier version of this post referred to Caroline Kennedy as "the late Caroline Kennedy." She is, in fact, alive and the U.S. ambassador to Japan.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and powerful storytelling.
Your donation helps make nonprofit journalism available for everyone.