I feel that Reagan's supply-side policies of cutting taxes and limiting federal outlays (as a percentage of GDP) greatly supported to the United States when the country needed economic growth. The unemployment rate during his presidency went from a height of 10.8% in 1982 to 5.4% in January 1989. Real GDP growth was way over 3 percent during his presidency and the economy gained over 16 million jobs. Tax cuts helped businesses thrive and expand.
While it is true that the national debt skyrocketed under Reagan, we have to remember that this was in military spending to win the Cold War. With the Cold War gone, presidents after Reagan could cut military spending for a "peace dividend" that eventually led to a surplus during the Clinton years.
Reagan truly did bring the United States out of a funk during the times of the Vietnam War. Because we must remember that after the Vietnam War, the United States was in a funk and we needed a way out. Ronald Reagan was the answer where he led us to a brighter future (at the time).
Reagan is actually considered one of the most aggressive Presidents ever in office, and he was. He stuck to his gun and got stuff done no matter what. He promised the people on what he wanted to achieve, and he successfully accomplished the task. As well as ended the Cold War with his aggressive negotiations. The negotiations of Peace through Strength!
He funded for more military, making our military one of the most advanced compare to other countries. With the U.S having the most aircraft carriers to date, and nuclear weapons; which we still have at our disposal for any possible threats.
Even though admittedly, Reagan did raise our debt, but put our country in a more safer environment, with a strong military zone, than before.
Even Ford and Carter did a better job at cutting government. Their combined presidential terms account for an increase of 1.4%—compared with Reagan's 3%—in the government's take of "national income." And in nominal terms, there has been a 60% increase in government spending, thanks mainly to Reagan's requested budgets, which were only marginally smaller than the spending Congress voted.
The budget for the Department of Education, which candidate Reagan promised to abolish along with the Department of Energy, has more than doubled to $22.7 billion, Social Security spending has risen from $179 billion in 1981 to $269 billion in 1986. The price of farm programs went from $21.4 billion in 1981 to $51.4 billion in 1987, a 140% increase. And this doesn't count the recently signed $4 billion "drought-relief" measure. Medicare spending in 1981 was $43.5 billion; in 1987 it hit $80 billion. Federal entitlements cost $197.1 billion in 1981—and $477 billion in 1987.
Foreign aid has also risen, from $10 billion to $22 billion. Every year, Reagan asked for more foreign-aid money than the Congress was willing to spend. He also pushed through Congress an $8.4 billion increase in the U.S. "contribution" to the International Monetary Fund.
His budget cuts were actually cuts in projected spending, not absolute cuts in current spending levels. As Reagan put it, "We're not attempting to cut either spending or taxing levels below that which we presently have."
The result has been unprecedented government debt. Reagan has tripled the Gross Federal Debt, from $900 billion to $2.7 trillion. Ford and Carter in their combined terms could only double it. It took 31 years to accomplish the first postwar debt tripling, yet Reagan did it in eight.