Recent Presidential Policies

How have recent U.S. Presidents dealt with domestic and foreign issues?

The Cold War and Post Cold War eras have
made for some rather interesting political decisions. These have been
difficult and challenging times. Politics as well as the American
people have changed. From Richard Nixon’s famous “I am not a crook”
to Ronald Reagan’s “Evil Empire” and who could forget William
Clinton’s “I did not have _ _ _ with that woman,” American Presidents
have come under enormous scrutiny. Below you will find a brief
outline of the foreign and domestic policies and issues that our more
recent presidents have had to deal with.

Recent Presidential
Policies and Developments

A. Richard M. Nixon (1969 – 1974)


1. War Powers Act – Signed in 1973 over a Presidential Veto,
this act mandated that the President notify Congress 48 hours sending
troops into action. If troops are fighting abroad for more than 90
days then the President must ask Congressional permission. This was a
reaction to the Gulf of
Tonkin Resolution
had given President Johnson permission to use troops in Vietnam as he
saw fit.

2. Realpolitik – policy of focusing on realities rather than
ideals developed in the recognition that all nations pursue policies
that are in their self interest.

3. Detente, SALT 1, Grain deal
with Soviet Union

4. Normalizing relations with

5. Pulled out of Vietnam

Domestic Policies

1. Had to deal with
stagflation, a situation where the economy slows and
there is inflation which produced difficult economic times.

2. Oil prices jumped due to an
Arab oil
in 1973.

3. Congress created
the Environmental
Protection Agency

4. The Watergate Affair -Nixon underlings caught breaking into
the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the
Watergate Hotel. Nixon refused to turn over tapes of the incident
citing executive privileged. The Supreme Court ruled that had to turn
them over. President Nixon forced to resign


B. Gerald R. Ford (1974 – 1977)



Domestic Policies

1. Pardoned Nixon

2. Attempted to cut government
spending. Vetoed dozens of spending bills.

C. James Earl (Jimmy) Carter


1. Placed an emphasis on
Human Rights.

2. Brokered the Camp David Accords bringing peace between Egypt and

3. Arranged to give back the Panama

4. Hostages taken in Tehran. Iran by
the Ayatollah
an Islamic
fundamentalist. Unable to secure their release.

Domestic Policy

1. Begins
deregulation of
many industries.

2. Set voluntary wage and price

3. Failed to gain the support of

4. Developed the MX missile project
and the B-2 Bomber

D. Ronald Reagan (1981 – 1989)


1. Hostages in Iran

2. Held Summit meetings with

3. Embroiled in controversy over
giving aid to Nicaraguan rebel known as the “Contras.” Money for this aid had come from secretly
selling weapons to the Iranians. Col. Oliver North was in charge of
the operation. When questioned by Congress Reagan claimed, “I do not

4. US troops sent to Lebanon to
enforce a peace there. Hundreds killed by a suicide bomber.

5. US troops invade

6. Begins the Strategic Defense
Initiative aka “star
” defense spending

Domestic Policy

1. Known as the “Great
Communicator” he was a conservative who had much popular

2. Economic policy known as
Reaganomics was a supply side spending program that
called for tax cuts to the rich.

3. Cut spending on social

4. Takes deficit spending to a new
level. The national debt soars from 280 billion to about two
trillion dollars.

5. Supervises payoff of consumers
during the Savings and
Loan Crisis

6. Continued deregulation

E. George Herbert Walker
(1989 –


1. Invaded Panama to depose dictator and drug kingpin Manuel

2. Conducted Operation Desert Storm to oppose Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

3. Continued to aid and negotiate
with new Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

Domestic Policy

1. Conducted the
War on

2. Began national educational

3. Raised taxes and lowered medicare

4. Continued bailout of

5. Nation in recession, high intrest
rates and heavy foerign debt.

F. William Jefferson
(1991 –


1. Continued support of
Boris Yeltsin.

2. Sends troops to Somalia, Haiti and
Bosnia as peace keepers.

3. Attempts to negotiate peace
between Bosnia and Serbia (Dayton Accords are signed) and between
Israel and the PLO.

4. Signs the North American Free Trade
eliminating tariffs between the US, Mexico and Canada.

5. Signs agreement with Japan that
opens up limited Japanese markets to US companies.

6. Leads strikes against Hussein in

7. Leads NATO to attack the Serbians
in Kosovo

Domestic Policies

1. Supports gays in the
military but then backs down and endorses a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

2. Is embroiled in numerous sandals
involving: a land deal in his home state of Arkansas known as
Whitewater,” alleged extramarital affairs (see below),
the firing of the entire White House travel office staff, the death
of White House lawyer Vincent Foster, problems with their old tax
returns, Wife Hillary Rodham Clinton missing documents connecting her
to financial dealings, the finding of those papers in Mrs. Clinton’s
study, the resignation and indictment of Department of Justice lawyer
Webster Hubbell a friend of Mrs. Clinton, questions concerning
illegal campaign contributions by Chinese citizens and having
contributors sleep in the White House (Charlie Tree a Chinese Clinton
supporter is eventually tried and found guilty), the Paula Corbin
Jones sexual harassment trial, Kenneth Starr’s independent counsel
investigation, MONICA, impeachment and acquittal, Chinese stealing
secrets from US nuclear testing labs…do we really need to go

3. Fails to pass health care

4. Signs a bill he had originally
opposed to end federal welfare payments.

5. Vows to lead educational

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