Richard Nixon was the eager and willing continuation, even dramatic expansion of the moderate or liberal trajectory of the Republican Party under the leadership of Gov. Thomas Dewey of New York, and then President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Upon his election as president, Nixon proposed or achieved sweeping social policies that would have secured the safety net under Americans living at the margins. His guaranteed income, the Family Assistance Plan, would have reformed welfare, but also undergirded the “working poor”, much as today’s Child Tax Credit seeks to do. His universal health insurance proposals were sweeping, including such specifics as proposing coverage of pre-existing conditions forty years before the Affordable Care Act. But the Republican Party then pivoted in another direction.
Nixon was a “man of government” who believed the federal government had a crucial role to play to assure the American family’s sense of security. His idea of the “social compact” was different to the direction the GOP has embraced for the half century since Nixon proposed or achieved such sweeping federal response to poverty, hunger, or lack of health insurance and care. It is time to take a fresh look at how the Republican Party can once again moor itself to policy solutions to meet peoples’ needs. Nixon’s social policies and the arguments for and against them at the time have resonance, even repetition today.
Author John Roy Price visits the University of Central Florida to discuss this topic for the Annual Pauley Lecture Series on Global Affairs. The event will be hosted in-person and virtually through Zoom webinar.
Price is the retired president and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh. During the first Nixon administration he was special assistant to the president of the United States and executive secretary of the Council for Urban Affairs and the Council for Rural Affairs. Published in 2021, The Last Liberal Republican: An Insider’s Perspective on Nixon’s Surprising Social Policy is Price’s memoir of his decade of activity in American politics and the Nixon White House.
Price’s memoir will be available for purchase at the event.