On August 13, 1981—37 years ago today—President Ronald Reagan signed into law the largest tax cut in our nation’s history.

Surrounded by soupy fog that blanketed the mountaintop that morning, Reagan sat at a table pulled onto the gravel driveway from the front patio at Rancho del Cielo, the “Western White House,” to sign the Economic Recovery Tax Act. 

“They represent a turnaround of almost a half a century of a course this country’s been on,” noted President Reagan before signing the bill. “[They] mark an end to the excessive growth in government bureaucracy, government spending, government taxing.” 

Wearing a denim jacket, jeans, cowboy boots, and a trademark grin on his face, Reagan accomplished one of his administration’s main goals: limiting government intervention in individuals’ lives and returning economic freedom to the American people. 

By signing the Economic Recovery Tax Act into law, our 40th President ushered in a new era of entrepreneurship and the longest period of peacetime economic growth in our history. 

President Reagan believed strongly in allowing hardworking Americans to keep the money they earned because he recognized that citizens are better at employing resources in their communities than are bureaucrats in a faraway capital. This belief would be proven correct across the board. 

As a result of the Economic Recovery Tax Act, youth unemployment dropped more than 40%, from over 18% to just under 11%, at the end of Reagan’s tenure. Cutting the top tax rate from 70% to 28% led to a doubling of revenue from that bracket, proving his critics on the Left wrong. And cutting unnecessary regulations freed up billions of dollars that were used to innovate, hire, and invest.

By signing the Economic Recovery Tax Act thousands of miles away from Washington, DC, in front of his humble adobe home, President Reagan again sent the message that it was the American people, not government bureaucracy, who made America great and worked to create the greatest, most prosperous nation the world has ever known.

After signing the bill, President Reagan was talking with reporters when one asked, “How much will you take for the place [Rancho del Cielo]?” President Reagan responded, “Oh, you can’t sell heaven.”

Since 1998, Young America’s Foundation has preserved Reagan’s “Western White House” as a lasting monument to his accomplishments. Through YAF’s stewardship of Rancho del Cielo, thousands of students are introduced to conservative ideas and the values of our 40th President.