Regents Prep: U.S. History: Presidential Decisions:
Chief Lawmaker
As Chief Lawmaker the president's main responsibility is proposing the federal budget. By directing the spending of the federal government the president effectively determines what programs and policy areas are to receive funding priority. The president also proposes legislation to be considered by Congress. While it is Congress's role to craft and pass all legislation, proposals from the president are usually given special consideration and have been the origin of many of our significant laws and policies throughout US history. Finally, the president has the power of the veto, or the rejection of legislation passed by Congress, giving him the power to strike down proposals with which he does not agree. While vetoes can be over ridden by Congress, the veto remains a power lawmaking weapon.

NOTE: The examples listed below are selected for their value in study for the Regent's Examination,
and represent a small fraction of the possible examples

FDR's New Deal during the First 100 Days:
Franklin D. Roosevelt became president during the heart of the Great Depression. Unemployment in 1933 was topping over 25% and there were no signs of improvement. FDR had been elected on the his promise of a New Deal to the American people, a program under which the government would begin to actively attack the problems of the depression.

FDR promised in his inaugural address that, "our primary is to put people to work" and that is exactly what his early direct relief programs sought to do. From after his inauguration in March 1933 until June Congress passed a flurry of FDR's proposals, a period that became known as the first 100 days. Never before or since has the Congress passed so many new, sweeping reforms in such a short period of time, the severity of the problem and FDR's mandate from the people spurring Congress into action.

New Deal programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) put men to work building roads and planting trees, others such as the Federal Emergency Relief Act offered direct relief in the form of food, clothing and money for the unemployed. Other programs from the 100 days, such as the first Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) attempted to strike at the problem of overproduction by paying American farmers not to grow certain crops. Additionally, the bank holiday closed the nation's banks in an effort to curb runs on the banks and a widening banking crisis.

While the successfulness of the New Deal programs in combating the Great Depression remains open for debate, there is little doubt that the relief programs offered during the first 100 days served to feed, house and employ millions of Americans who would have otherwise gone hungry, homeless or idle.

Johnson backs the Civil Rights Act of 1964 :
Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) took over the presidency following the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He also took over the struggle for the passage of a new, more comprehensive Civil Rights Act. Proposing a series of domestic social improvement in what he called a "Great Society" program, Johnson saw the implementation of a civil rights act as a cornerstone of this initiative. Johnson also addressed the economic needs of the poor (a disproportional number of whom were African-American) in his War on Poverty. 

Resistance to the Civil Rights act of 1964 in Congress was great, with southern Senators resisting the bill and even filibustering to delay a vote. After nearly half a year of efforts, LBJ managed to push though the act, which banned discrimination and segregation in all areas of American society. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 also created Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) which works to ensure fair treatment and hiring for minorities and women. The act proved to be one of the single greatest steps forward in the struggle for civil rights and equality in the 20th century and was a major victory for the civil rights activists of the 1960's, as well as Johnson's administration.


Clinton sends Congress a balanced budget:
For the vast majority of American history, the Federal Government has spent more money then it has taken in. This is known as deficit spending and means that the government adds to the national debt (in the form of borrowing via government bonds, treasury bills, etc...) which now totals well over five and a half billion dollars.

During the 1990's many Americans called for an end to this process of constant borrowing and rising national debt by demanding a balanced budget, one that spend equal to or less than the revenue the government would take in during a year. This call was embodied by the attention paid to third-party candidate H. Ross Perot and his Reform Party during the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections, form whom a balanced budget and reduced national debt was a focal issue.

Following his re-election in 1996, President Bill Clinton delivered to Congress a balanced budget, the first of four such budgets in his final term in office. This marked the first time since 1968 that the government had spent less money than it took in and did not require further borrowing to cover spending programs. While many credit the economic expansion and rising revenues of the 1990's for the balanced budgets, many credit the Clinton administration's actions for the eventual results.


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