Fact Sheet on the President's Domestic Agenda

Light, P.C.
Brookings Institution paper,

Bush continues a trend toward smaller agendas begun in the wake of the 1981 tax cuts, which sharply constrained the amount of federal funding for large scale, new programs. He also continues a trend among Republican presidents toward a �less-is-more� philosophy of domestic policy. His agenda is half as large as Richard Nixon's first-term agenda in 1969-72, a third smaller than Ronald Reagan's first-term agenda in 1981-84, and a quarter smaller than his father's first-term agenda in 1989-92. Although less ambitious than his predecessors, Bush's limited number of large-scale, new proposals have been undeniably bold. His tax cuts, education reform, social security revisions, prescription drug coverage, and homeland security reorganization are easily classified as large-scale, new proposals, and match up with the large-scale, new proposals of the past such as civil rights, voting rights, and Medicare under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, environmental protection, revenue sharing, and national health insurance under Richard M. Nixon, energy and social security reform under Jimmy Carter, tax cuts under Ronald Reagan, budget reform under George H. W. Bush, and national health care, Americorps, and welfare reform under Bill Clinton. However, what sets George W. Bush apart is the relatively shallow depth of his agenda. Whereas Kennedy and Johnson pursued 54 large-scale, new proposals in their two first terms, and Nixon another 18, Bush has pursued just five in his. Simply put, George W. Bush has placed all of his domestic policy proposals in a very small basket. Half of his agenda consists of small-scale, conventional proposals, including expanded drug treatment, pension reform, and an energy package that pales in comparison to the energy bills of previous administrations.

Wagner Faculty