Former President George H.W. Bush has been selected to receive a Profile in Courage award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation for agreeing to a 1990 budget deal that would raise taxes, despite previously pledging not to raise them, the foundation said today.
The annual award is presented to public servants who have made courageous decisions without regard for personal or professional consequences, the foundation said in a statement.
The award is named for President Kennedy’s book “Profiles in Courage,” which details stories of US senators who risked their careers for the greater good.
Bush is being honored for the courage he demonstrated when he agreed to the budget compromise. This reneged on his 1988 campaign pledge to not raise taxes, and risked the Republican’s re-election prospects, the foundation said. Democrat Bill Clinton ultimately won the 1992 election.
At the time of the deal, the federal deficit was set at $200 billion, and the Congressional Budget Office predicted it would double. Bush negotiated with Democrats and agreed to a deal that included both spending cuts and tax increases, the foundation said.
“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, President Kennedy’s grandson in the statement.
Paul W. Bridges, a former Georgia mayor, will also receive an award. He was selected for risking his mayoral career when he publicly opposed a controversial Georgia immigration law, the foundation said.
In 2011, Bridges, then the mayor of Uvalda, joined a federal lawsuit to stop the implementation of House Bill 87, a law aimed at forcing illegal immigrants out of Georgia. The law authorized police to demand “papers” proving immigration status during traffic stops, said the foundation.
“Mayor Paul Bridges took a stand on an issue affecting the rights of people in his community and never wavered in the face of fierce criticism,” said Schlossberg in the statement.
Schlossberg will honor both men at a May 4 ceremony at the library.
“As my grandfather wrote in Profiles in Courage, ‘we cannot permit the pressures of party responsibility to submerge on every issue the call of personal responsibility,’” said Schlossberg. “President Bush and Paul Bridges both put the public interest ahead of their own political fortunes. We’re thrilled to honor them this year.”