Classic Case - Ronald Reagan and Tax Exemptions for Racist Schools

Ronald Reagan and Tax Exemptions for Racist Schools


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  • Product Description

    In January 1982, the Reagan administration reversed a Nixon -- era policy, the effect of which would grant tax exemptions to racially discriminatory schools. The change was developed by lawyers at the Treasury and Justice Departments, who believed that the Internal Revenue Service had no explicit statutory authority to deny the exemptions. The White House was not closely involved in the decision but acquiesced. The announcement of the new policy was issued late on a Friday afternoon to minimize the attention it received. Nevertheless, the policy incited a deluge of criticism from the media, which treated the issue as a racial matter. The administration was accused of being racist or, at best, insensitive. In response, the White House rushed in and effectively reversed the reversal.

    Learning Objective:
    This case illustrates how the press can affect policymaking. In particular, it shows the risk of not involving communications experts early in the policymaking process, the power of the media to frame a specific issue, the impact of negative press, and the effect coverage has in moving an issue through government. For a different treatment of this issue, see Case of the Segregated Schools (C14-83-531.0).

  • Other Details

    Publication Date: January 01, 1984
    HKS Case Number: 609.0
    Case Author: David Whitman
    Faculty Lead: Martin Linsky and Jonathan Moore
    Pages (incl. exhibits): 140
    Setting: United States
    Language: English
    Funding Source: Charles H. Revson Foundation
    _pages: 25+
    _geography: US & Canada
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