Week 7 Lectures.docx - Lecture 1 Nixons Presidency With his...

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Lecture 1 Nixon’s Presidency: With his election to the presidency in 1968, Richard Nixon set the stage for the new conservatism. Indeed, his policies heralded a long-term Republican effort to trim back the Great Society by shifting a number of federal responsibilities back to the states. Unlike his Republican predecessors, however, Nixon actively embraced the use of federal power, though within limits, to uphold government responsibility for social welfare, environmental protection, and economic stability. While maintaining a strong federal government, then, he hoped to reduce governmental inefficiency through better management. In the 1968 campaign pledge, Nixon had vowed to “reverse the flow of power and resources from the states and communities to Washington and start power and resources flowing back to the people.” Nixon’s program, called New Federalism and later the New American Revolution, marked a retreat from the long-term consolidation of federal power that had characterized American political life since the New Deal. One of its hallmarks was the 1972 program of revenue sharing, a 5 year plan which Nixon pushed through Congress that distributed a portion of federal tax revenues, some $30 billion dollars, to the states as block grants to be spent as state officials saw fit, an idea that later Republicans would actively advocate as a strategy for reducing federal social programs and bureaucracy. Nixon also worked to scale down certain governmental programs that had grown dramatically during the Johnson administration. Seeing them as bloated and inefficient, Nixon reduced funding for most of the War on Poverty and dismantled the Office of Economic Opportunity altogether in 1971. Nixon also impounded, or, refused to spend, billions of dollars appropriated by Congress for urban renewal, pollution control, and other environmental initiatives. And although his administration claimed to support civil rights, Nixon adopted a cautious approach toward racial issues so as not to alienate southern white voters. Further, in a leaked 1970 memo, one of Nixon’s advisors, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a New York Democrat who had joined the White House, suggested that “the issue of race could benefit from a period of benign neglect”, a revelation that scandalized liberals and embarrassed the administration when it was made public. Nixon also vetoed a 1971 bill to establish a comprehensive childcare system, fearing that such “communal approaches to child rearing” would “sovietize” American children. As an alternative to the traditional liberal Democratic social legislation, the administration put forward its own antipoverty program in an ambitious attempt to overhaul what Nixon saw as the inefficient welfare system. In 1969, on the advice of Moynihan, Nixon proposed a Family Assistance Plan that would provide a family of four a small but guaranteed annual income, the appeal of which lay in its simple elimination of the multiple layers of bureaucrats who administered Aid to Families with
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Dependent Children, which had become the nation’s largest welfare program under Johnson. The Bill,
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