On August 8 – the 42nd anniversary of President Nixon’s prime time address announcing his domestic policy – the National Archives and the Richard Nixon Foundation hosted New Federalism: Returning Power to the People, the 13th in a series of Nixon Legacy Forums. Featuring a panel of senior Nixon administration officials, the topics discussed were in regard to one of the Nixon administration’s signature issues: RN’s national policy to transfer power from the federal government to state and local governments known as “The New Federalism.”
Hosted at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, and covered by C-SPAN, the participants included Richard P. Nathan, Assistant Director of the Office of Management and Budget; Edwin L. Harper, Assistant Director of the White House Domestic Council; and James H. Falk, Sr., a member of the Domestic Council specializing in state and local government issues. The forum was moderated by Shirley Anne Warshaw, professor of political science at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.
In his August 8, 1969 address, RN stressed that the government – coming off his predecessor’s Great Society programs – had grown too large and had “strained our institutions.” The panelists in the forum all worked closely with the President to invent a comprehensive plan, including reforms to welfare and a program known as revenue sharing. The aim of this plan was to reduce the size of the federal government, while helping those less fortunate get “off welfare rolls and onto payrolls,” for the greatness of America was “not because of what government did for people, but what people did for themselves.”
Dick Nathan recalled that the President was “very involved in the process” while Ed Harper noted that RN wanted it to be a bipartisan issue. Jim Falk recognized the importance of the President’s Domestic Policy Adviser John Ehrlichman, who was a superb organizer, “good about getting people together and making things happen.” The panelists agreed that though the bill’s passage through Congress was tough, the final bill was a substantial success and even set the stage for welfare reform in the 1990s.
This forum was unique in that it featured special segments from the White House tapes of RN in his own words, as well as videos of President Nixon’s addresses on August 8, 1969, and October 20, 1972, the latter of which was made during the signing of the landmark General Revenue Sharing bill in Philadelphia.
Perhaps Warshaw summarized the unique aspect of all Nixon Legacy Forums most suitably: “This is a rare opportunity to be with the people who made history.”
Click here to view the photo slide show.
Top Photo: Participants James H. Falk, Edwin L. Harper and Richard P. Nathan, with moderator Shirley Anne Warshaw.