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An Outline of American History
Eisenhower's Approach
by U.S. Department of State


Dwight Eisenhower accepted the basic framework of government responsibility established by the New Deal, but sought to limit the presidential role. He termed his approach "dynamic conservatism" or "modern Republicanism," which meant, he explained, "conservative when it comes to money, liberal when it comes to human beings." A critic countered that Eisenhower appeared to argue that he would "strongly recommend the building of a great many schools...but not provide the money."

Eisenhower's first priority was to balance the budget after years of deficits. He wanted to cut spending, cut taxes and maintain the value of the dollar. Republicans were willing to risk unemployment to keep inflation in check. Reluctant to stimulate the economy too much, they saw the country suffer three recessions in eight years.

In other areas, the administration transferred control of offshore oil lands from the federal government to the states. It also favored private development of energy sources rather than the public approach the Democrats had initiated. In everything the Eisenhower administration undertook, its orientation was sympathetic to business.

Eisenhower's inclination to play a modest role in public often led to legislative stalemate. Still, he was active behind the scenes pushing his favorite programs. And he was one of the few presidents who left office as popular as when he entered it.

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