Dwight Eisenhower on Government Reform



1952: Who can clean up the mess in Washington? Ike can!

Nixon was asked by a journalist about a "fund" that a group of CA businessman had raised for him. An unconcerned VP nominee pounded away at the ticket's #1 selling point: "Who can clean up the mess in Washington?" he led the crowd. "Ike can!" Across the continent, the headlines screamed "Secret Nixon Fund" from its front page.

[The scandal] could cost Dwight Eisenhower the presidency. Not even a Nixon-ordered audit showing that none of the contributed money had gone to his private use could appease Eisenhower. "What was the use of campaigning against the business of what has being going on in Washington," he added with lethal candor, "if we ourselves aren't as clean as a hound's tooth?"

As the rumors of the "fund" spread, the outlook for Nixon grew dark. The New York Herald Tribune, an exuberant backer of Eisenhower, called for Nixon to resign his nomination.

Ike answered Nixon's desperate query with one of his own. "I'm having a tough time deciding this; it's about how people perceive it."

Source: Kennedy & Nixon, by Chris Matthews, p. 81-82 , Jun 3, 1996

Assure minority right to vote, and all other rights follow

I could not yield in my purpose of protecting the citizen's right to vote. This was the overriding provision of the bill that I wanted to set down in the law; with his right to vote assured, the American Negro could use it to help secure his other rights.

Incidentally, a few southerners in the Congress, some of them my personal friends, privately told me that in the matter of voting rights they agreed on the justice of and the need for my stand. But his declaration would be accompanied by the statement, "officially, publicly, I must be, in my state, against every kind of proposal on civil rights of whatever nature."

Source: Waging Peace, by Pres. Dwight Eisenhower, p.156-157 , Jan 1, 1965

Term limits for House (16 years) and Senate (18 years)

Would it be desirable to extend the terms of members of the House of Representatives from 2 to 4 years? Does the adoption of the 22nd Amendment, limiting the President's tenure in his office, make it logical that a somewhat similar amendment should apply to the members of Congress?

I suspect that almost every member of the House of Representatives would favor the extension; more important, I believe it would be to the advantage of the country.

If the term of the House members were extended to 4 years with tenure limited to 3 elections with a maximum time of service of 16 years (to cover interim appointments), and that of senators to 2 terms of 6 years, with a maximum service time of 18 years, possibly each would spend less time in keeping his eyes on the next election and more in centering them on the good of the nation. A more rapid turnover of the membership in both Houses with its constant infusion of new blood would largely eliminate the "career" politician in Congress.

Source: Waging Peace, by Pres. Dwight Eisenhower, p.638-643 , Jan 1, 1965

Line item veto could prevent pork barrel spending

Several Presidents have suggested the "item veto." Authority for vetoing, item by item, specific features of bills passed by state legislatures has long been in the hands of many of our state governors. If similar authority were possessed by the President respecting financial bills, he could improve economy and efficiency and could prevent "pork barreling" in the Congress.

Probably the framers of our Constitution contemplated that each bill introduced into the Congress would have one major purpose only and would be passed, amended, or rejected on the basis of the Congress's conviction as to its special need and desirability. However, in practice, Congress often passes a bill whose main provisions are generally desirable, but included also may be wasteful or needless expenditure authorizations. Thus, the President is often in the position of approving expenditures he feels are undesirable because they are appended to legislation which he deems in the best interests of the nation.

Source: Waging Peace, by Pres. Dwight Eisenhower, p.644 , Jan 1, 1965

Lower the voting age to 18

For years our citizens between the ages of 18 and 21 have, in time of peril, been summoned to fight for America. They should participate in the political process that produces this fateful summons. I urge Congress to propose to the States a constitutional amendment permitting citizens to vote when they reach the age of 18.
Source: Pres. Eisenhower's 1954 State of the Union message , Jan 7, 1954

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Other past presidents on Government Reform: Dwight Eisenhower on other issues:
Former Presidents:
Barack Obama(D,2009-2017)
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Past Vice Presidents:
V.P.Joseph Biden
V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole

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Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022