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.
Deal during the First 100 Days:
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
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.
backs the Civil Rights Act of 1964 :
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
sends Congress a balanced budget:
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.