The creation of the Domestic Council in 1970, roughly patterned after the National Security Council NSC), consolidated policy making on domestic issues into the Executive Office of the President. Coupled with the transformation of the former Bureau of the Budget into the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), this formed the basis for the modern presidency. Henceforth, policy making on all major issues would be done within the White House itself, with Cabinet Departments—while still having input—would be cast largely in the role of policy implementation.
The role of the Domestic Council staff, like that of the NSC, would be to assure the President himself was provided with appropriate background and analysis of major issues before being called upon to make any actual policy decisions—and before any implementation steps were taken.
How and why this came about during the Nixon Administration is the subject of the introductory panel on President Nixon’s Domestic Policy Initiatives, being held at the Nixon Library on Friday, January 8th from 1:30-3:30pm. The program is a part of the oral history project undertaken by the Nixon Library and funded by the Nixon Foundation.
The program features four former Associate Directors of the Domestic Council (Jim Cavanaugh, Richard Fairbanks, myself and John Whitaker). They will discuss the early organization of President Nixon’s Cabinet and White House staff, origins of OMB and the Domestic Council—along with early examples of policy making in the areas of Healthcare, Energy and the Environment.
These are excellent examples of the significance of the work of the Domestic Council and OMB, since the nation’s first energy crisis occurred in that era, as well as its awakening to a whole series of environmental challenges. It also is generally conceded today that President Nixon’s proposals on healthcare, if implemented, would have resulted in far more timely and appropriate reform.
Subsequent panels will explore a range of President Nixon’s domestic initiatives in far greater detail. These programs are designed as overviews for future researchers coming to the Nixon Library to take advantage of the forty-two million pages of Nixon Administration’s Presidential Papers that will be housed there this June.