Congress and Domestic Policy in the flge of
Ceroid ford had the misfortune to be president in the period right after Watergate when Congress, which was run by the opposition party, sought to control the policy agenda. At the same time, economic stringency made the creation of major new domestic programs difficult. Nineteen seventyfour, as it turned out, became an important dividing line between the expansive domestic policy of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society program and the much more limited domestic policy of the seventies. The congressional elections of that same year, conducted less than three months after Ford took office, resulted not only in a Democratic landslide but also in increased momentum for efforts to reform Congress. Intended as a means of opening up the legislative process so that Congress could more easily act on the people's will, the reforms actually made it more difficult for Congress to pass major legislation.
The battle over national health insurance illustrated how the differences between the Great Society and the seventies affected Gerald Ford. This issue had been a contentious one, almost from the time that it arose during the New Deal. Reformers thought that the government should bring health care within people's financial reach by starting a national program of public health insurance. Members of the medical profession worried that the federal government's entrance into the field would undermine their professional autonomy and lower the quality of care. The results were a stalemate