Thursday, December 28, 2006

 

The Power of No and the President

In his two years in office, President Gerald Ford vetoed 66 bills approved by Congress. This is a little less than Reagan's 78 times in eight years and exactly 66 times the current Bush's single veto.

Ford reluctantly took office in the spirit of public service, to help the nation overcome the disastrous end of the Nixon administration. Although one could argue Nixon's foreign policy included some brilliant successes, his domestic policies were an unqualified disaster. Years of wage-price controls only worsened the economic problems they had been designed to cure.

Who remembers the short-lived "Whip Inflation Now" campaign? Ford's first attempt to fix the economy pitted implacable market forces against slogans, buttons and stickers. It didn't work.

But Ford hit the brakes on Congressional spending. His vetoes saved billions and billions of dollars of public spending. Even though he was a Republican and the Congress was in the hands of the Democratic Party, most of his vetoes were upheld. When he left office, the nation was much better off than when he took office. We were at peace, and the economy had improved.

As many will say in the next few days, Ford helped heal the nation after the trauma of Nixon's resignation and the bloody end of the Vietnam war. But Ford deserves quite a bit a credit for his veto record as well, something often overlooked in noting his accomplishments.

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