NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Nixon Era Policies Bush Should Scuttle

December 26, 2001

George W. Bush has reversed one mistaken policy from the Nixon administration -- the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the Soviet Union -- that has been criticized for ONLY restricting our ability to defend ourselves.

Having taken the first step toward ridding America of Nixon's legacy, Bruce Bartlett suggests there is more ill-conceived legislation from the Nixon era still on the books that should go the way of the ABM Treaty.

Among them is affirmative action.

  • During the Kennedy and Johnson years, affirmative action simply meant that government contractors should make an extra effort to recruit minorities where possible.
  • In 1969, Nixon put forward the "Philadelphia Plan," which required strict quotas for minorities on federal construction projects; later, this policy was extended to all government contracting.
  • Thus it was Nixon who first converted affirmative action from a relatively benign policy into the rigid quota system that we have come to identify with it today.

Another of Nixon's worst mistakes was to permanently index Social Security benefits to inflation, something never contemplated by the originators of the program.

Also, in 1974, Nixon signed into law legislation abolishing the de facto line item veto authority enjoyed by every president up until then. Thus the uncontrollability of the federal budget and accompanying deficits owe their origin to Nixon's policies.

And much of the crushing federal regulation of business got its start under Nixon. Among the agencies that he created are the Environmental Protection Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The vast costs imposed on the economy by these alphabet agencies have reduced productivity and wage growth for a generation, making every American poorer as a result.

Source: Bruce Bartlett, senior fellow, National Center for Policy Analysis, December 26, 2001.


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