The complaint that Congress is recalcitrant or derelict or ineffective in responding to administration proposals is often heard in the land. Criticism of Congress is usually popular and reflects traditional American attitudes and theories of government. It is also a reaction to current failings of governmental institutions and officials.
President Truman by his criticism made famous the "Republican 'do-nothing' 80th Congress." President Nixon was less harsh when he accused the Ninety-first Congress of "turn-of-the-century" work schedules and procedures. But stronger was the criticism he aimed at the Senate. "In the final months and weeks of 1970," he said, ". . . the nation was presented with the spectacle of a legislative body that had seemingly lost the capacity to decide and the will to act. When the path was finally cleared, vital days had been lost, and major failures insured."
President Nixon's criticism of the Ninety-second Congress related principally to the issue of federal spending. He charged that Congress had been on a spending spree. In his 1972 campaign, Mr. Nixon promised to avoid a "Presidential tax increase," but warned that free spending by Congress could produce a "Congressional tax increase." This obscured the fact that Nixon's chief difference with the Ninetysecond Congress was over priorities. The President had insisted on high military spending, while the Congress had demanded more money for domestic needs. It was the combination of the two demands that had produced large deficits.
In the 1974 congressional campaign President Ford complained of congressional spending, but wound up asking that the country give him only enough supporters in the Congress so that his vetoes might be sustained. It was the least request any President had made of the voters.