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On January 2, 1974, President Richard M. Nixon signs the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act, setting a new national maximum speed limit.
Prior to 1974, individual states set speed limits within their boundaries and highway speed limits across the country ranged from 40 mph to 80 mph. The U.S. and other industrialized nations enjoyed easy access to cheap Middle Eastern oil from 1950 to 1972, but the Arab-Israeli conflict changed that dramatically in 1973. Arab members of the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) protested the West’s support of Israel in the Yom Kippur War by stopping oil shipments to the United States, Japan and Western Europe. OPEC also flexed its new-found economic muscle by quadrupling oil prices, placing a choke-hold on America’s oil-hungry consumers and industries. The embargo had a global impact, sending the U.S. and European economies into recession. As part of his response to the embargo, President Nixon signed a federal law lowering all national highway speed limits to 55 mph. The act was intended to force Americans to drive at speeds deemed more fuel-efficient, thereby curbing the U.S. appetite for foreign oil. With it, Nixon ushered in a policy of fuel conservation and rationing not seen since World War II.
The act also prohibited the Department of Transportation from approving or funding any projects within states that did not comply with the new speed limit. Most states quietly adjusted their speed limits, though Western states, home to the country’s longest, straightest and most monotonous rural highways, only grudgingly complied. Even after OPEC lifted the embargo in March 1974, drivers continued to face high gas prices and attempted to conserve fuel by buying revolutionary Japanese economy cars. For many, a desire for fuel-efficient automobiles became the standard until the trend toward gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) emerged in the 1990s. In 1987, Congress authorized states to reset speed limits within their borders, but proponents of the national maximum speed limit law claimed it lowered automobile-related fatalities, prompting Congress to keep it on the books until finally repealing it on November 28, 1995.
Today speed limits across the country vary between 35 and 40 mph in congested urban areas and 75 mph on long stretches of rural highway. U.S. drivers now drive almost as fast as their European counterparts, who average between 75 and 80 mph on the highway. On some roads in Italy, it is legal to drive as fast as 95 mph.
READ MORE: The Interstate Highway System
Did '55' Save Lives? How The National Speed Limit Failed
In 1974, President Richard Nixon put a national speed limit of 55 miles per hour (mph) on every road in the United States, including interstate highways, in hopes that the restriction would serve the dual purpose of saving lives and saving fuel. Understandably, people hated it. It's hard to comprehend such a slow, country-wide speed limit today. Not only is it a hazardously slow highway speed, but how can anyone expect to travel cross country at such a snail's pace?
People mostly disregarded the National Maximum Speed Limit -- sure, the "limit" was 55 mph, but the word on the street was that you could drive up to 64 mph (or some other arbitrary number, depending on your state's Monopoly-style house rules) without fear of getting pulled over. Even though politicians attempted to raise the limit as the years went on this law stayed on the books until 1987 when the U.S. Senate voted to allow states to increase speeds on rural interstates to 65 mph. The drama surrounding the National Speed Limit and its failure is the story of a group of people deciding what's right for everyone and failing miserably.
National speed limits Edit
Default maximum speed limits apply to all roads where no specific lower numeric speed limit is already in force. The default speed limit is known as the national speed limit (NSL). The NSLs vary by road type and for vehicle types.  
|Built-up area||Single carriageway||Dual carriageway||Motorway|
|Cars and motorcycles (including car-derived vans up to 2 tonnes max laden weight)||30 mph (48 km/h)||60 mph (97 km/h)||70 mph (113 km/h)||70 mph (113 km/h)|
|Vehicles towing caravans or trailers |
inc cars, motorcycles, goods vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes MLW
|30 mph (48 km/h)||50 mph (80 km/h)||60 mph (97 km/h)||60 mph (97 km/h)|
|Buses, coaches, minibuses up to 12 metres (39 ft) |
Goods vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes MLW
|30 mph (48 km/h)||50 mph (80 km/h)||60 mph (97 km/h)||70 mph (113 km/h)|
|Goods vehicles over 7.5 tonnes MLW (in England and Wales)||30 mph (48 km/h)||50 mph (80 km/h)||60 mph (97 km/h)||60 mph (97 km/h)|
|Goods vehicles over 7.5 tonnes MLW (in Scotland)||30 mph (48 km/h)||40 mph (64 km/h)||50 mph (80 km/h)||60 mph (97 km/h)|
Speed limiters Edit
Some classes of vehicles are required to have speed limiters which enforce a maximum speed by physical means. Older vehicles still in use do not have limiters fitted or have them set at a higher speeds.  New vehicles should be fitted with limiters as follows:
Some other vehicles, especially light commercial or service vehicles, may be voluntarily fitted with limiters by their owners (either private businesspeople or company fleets), generally set at 60, 65, or 70 mph, though some ultralight citybound service vehicles may be limited to 50 mph (80 km/h) or less. In all cases, a warning sticker must be displayed on the rear of the vehicle.
Fixed speed limits Edit
Speed limit road signs are used to inform road users where speed limits other than the applicable national speed limit apply.
Variable speed limits Edit
Variable speed limits are used on some major traffic roads. These can be changed in response to weather, traffic levels, time of day or for other reasons with the currently applicable speed limit displayed using an electronic road sign. Signs with the speed shown in a red circle are compulsory, signs where the speed is not within a red circle are advisory and exceeding these speeds while driving safely within the applicable national speed limit is not in itself an offence.  Variable speed limits were introduced on some congested major routes as an element of controlled motorway techniques to improve traffic flows for given prevailing conditions.  Part-time variable speed limits may also be used outside schools. [ citation needed ]
Minimum speed limits Edit
Rarely, minimum speed limits are used, such as through the Mersey Tunnels, to maintain free flow and safe passage through otherwise hazardous or enclosed areas.  Circular blue signs with white numbers indicate the start of these limits, and similar signs with a red diagonal line indicate their end.  Contrary to popular belief, there is no minimum speed limit on motorways, although certain classes of slow vehicles (as well as those of any class that cannot maintain 25 mph on the level whilst unladen) are prohibited on safety grounds and drivers are expected to not cause unnecessary obstruction by driving unusually slowly.
According to the government, speed limits are used to help achieve appropriate traffic speeds for safety, and environmental and accessibility reasons.  The Department for Transport state that "speed limits play a fundamental role" in the effective management of traffic speeds in relation to the safety of both drivers and all other road users. 
The 30 mph (48 km/h) speed limit in built-up areas was introduced in 1934 in response to high casualty levels.  The 70 mph (112 km/h) limit on previously unrestricted roads was introduced in 1965 following a number of serious motorway accidents in fog earlier the same year. 
The Department for Transport believes that effective speed management involves many components but that speed limits play a 'fundamental role' and are 'a key source of information to road users' particularly as an indicator of the nature and risks posed by that road to both themselves and other motorised and non-motorised road users. 
The Parliamentary Select Committee for Transport Safety published a report entitled 'The Ending the Scandal of Complacency' in 2007 which highlighted how casualty levels rise with increasing speed and recommended reducing speed limits on streets with high pedestrian populations and on dangerous rural roads. The report highlights that when two cars crash head-on at 60 mph a driver has a 90% chance of dying which falls to 65% at 50 mph. While recommending 20 mph speed zones the committee noted that these zones 'should not rely on heavy-handed enforcement measures'. 
The World Health Organization published a report in 2004 highlighting that a total of 22% of all 'injury mortality' worldwide were from road traffic injuries in 2002 [n 2] and that the speed of vehicles was 'at the core of the problem [n 3] Road incidents are said to be the leading cause of deaths among children 10 – 19 years of age (260,000 children die a year, 10 million are injured). 
In 2008 14% of collisions reported to the police had a speed related contributory factor (either "exceeding the speed limit" or "travelling too fast for conditions") reported rising to 24% for fatal accidents and 25% of all road deaths. [n 4] "Exceeding the speed limit" was reported as a contributory factor in 5% of collisions and 14% of fatal collisions. "Travelling too fast for conditions" (but within the prevailing speed limit) was recorded as one of the contributory factors in a further 8% of all collisions (and 9% of all fatal, 9% of all serious and 8% of all slight accidents), [n 5]
The UK government publishes Reported Road Casualties Great Britain (RRCGB) each year, based on road traffic casualties data (STATS19) reported to the police, which has been collected since 1949, and with additional data going back to 1926.  The highest number of road fatalities recorded in a single year in GB was 9,196 in 1941. [n 6] The highest number of fatalities during peacetime was 7,985 for 1966, [n 7] following the introduction of the national 70 mph speed limit in 1965 and the year before the legal drink drive limit and the associated Breathalyzer laws were introduced.
The 2009 edition also summarised the characteristics of speed related fatal collisions as typically occurring on unclassified rural 60 mph speed limit roads, the driver being a male under the age of 30, with the collision types being head-on, lost control or cornering and the cause being loss of control whilst cornering or overtaking and the contributory factors being excess or inappropriate speed, loss of control, aggressive, careless or reckless behaviour or in a hurry. [n 8]
Environmental and accessibility Edit
Speed limits are also used where reduced vehicle speeds are desired to help reduce vehicle emissions and traffic noise, and to improve the accessibility conditions for more vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists and to reduce the perceived traffic risk for local people. 
During the 1973 oil crisis a temporary maximum national speed limit of 50 mph (80 km/h) was introduced on all roads, including motorways to reduce fuel consumption, which was later progressively raised on Motorways (to 70 mph) and dual carriageways (to 60 mph), before a final change to single and dual carriageway non-motorway roads that produced the current NSL situation. 
Parliament estimates that "Most drivers and pedestrians think speeds are generally too high but 95% of all drivers admit to exceeding speed limits".  DfT guidance makes it clear that setting speed limits in isolation, or setting ones that are "unrealistically low" may be ineffective and lead to disrespect for the speed limit.  Bath and North East Somerset Council say that speed limits on their own do not necessarily reduce traffic speeds and should be supported by enforcement to target "irresponsible drivers" or traffic calming. 
20 mph speed limits and zones Edit
The Department for Transport encourages the use of either '20 mph speed limits' or '20 mph speed limit zones' in urban situations where vulnerable road users are at particular risk. 
In 1998 the TRL reported  that signed 20 mph (32 km/h) speed limits only reduced traffic speeds by about 1 mph and delivered no discernible reduction in accident numbers but that 20 mph zones achieved average speed reductions of 10 mph with child pedestrian accident reductions of 70% and child cyclist accident reductions of 48%.  The report noted that the cost of wide area traffic calming was prohibitive.
20 mph speed limits Edit
20 mph speed limits are based on signage alone and are used where 85th percentile speeds are already below 24 mph. 
A report published in 2010 by the Department for Transport regarding Portsmouth City Council's 20 mph (32 km/h) speed limit on 255 mi (410 km) of the city's 272 mi (438 km) of roads found a small (1.3 mph) reduction in traffic speed and a small 8% increase in the number of serious accidents – neither of which were statistically significant – and a 21% reduction in the number of accidents. There was a 6% increase in the numbers killed or seriously injured (KSI) – also not statistically significant due to the small numbers involved – and a 22% reduction in the total number of road casualties. 
20 mph zones Edit
In places where 20 mph speeds are desired but where excessive speeds (85th percentile speed of 24 mph or above) occur, 20 mph zones are recommended. These have to use traffic calming measures to reduce speeds to below 20 mph. 
In 1992 David Harding-Price a parish councillor in Barrow-Upon-Humber proposed a 20 mph speed limit outside the local school. This was rejected by the council. By August 2002, Kingston upon Hull had introduced 112 20-mph zones and 190 km (120 mi) of roads subject to a 20 mph limit covering 26% of the city's streets which they described as contributing to "dramatic reductions in road casualties". Total collisions were reduced by 56%, collisions involving death and serious injury were reduced by 90%, collisions involving child casualties were reduced by 64%, all pedestrian collisions were reduced by 54%, and total child pedestrian collisions reduced by 74%. 
A report published in 2008 estimated that following the introduction of 20 mph zones in London, a reduction of casualties by 45% and KSI by 57% occurred. 
Shared space Edit
Research carried out for the Department for Transport, to provide supporting evidence for Local Transport Note 1/11 on shared space, showed that in all of the ten shared space sites that were studied, that although they all had speed limits of 30 mph, that the average speeds on them was around 20 mph. 
The introduction of the 70 mph speed limit Edit
On 22 December 1965, a temporary 70 mph (113 km/h) speed limit was introduced on previous unrestricted roads and motorways for 4 months.  At the end of the trial, speed checks on the M6 in Cheshire suggested that although cars were actually being driven about 10 mph (16 km/h) faster, they were still usually travelling at speeds below the new limit. The crash rate was lower on the M6 in Staffordshire (the better weather was noted too) and continued to fall on the M5 in Worcestershire as it had before the new limit was imposed, and there was no change in the crash rate on the M6 in Cheshire or on the M1 in Northamptonshire. 
The trial was extended and then made permanent in 1967. The blanket limit was reduced to 60 mph on single carriageways in 1977. 
Although these 70 mph speed limit road signs are normally not used on motorways (the National Speed Limit road sign is normally used, as it makes it more understandable for motorists their maximum speed on the type of vehicle they're using), they have been used on non-motorway special roads within the UK, and across the motorways within Scotland. 
In the UK, in 2017 the average free flow speed for each vehicle type is correlated with the applicable speed limit for that road type and for motorways and national speed limit single carriageway roads, the average free flow speed is below the designated speed limit for each vehicle type, except motorcycles on motorways. 
Speed limit enforcement is used to check that road vehicles are complying with the speed limits. Methods used include Fixed speed cameras, Average speed cameras and also police operated LIDAR speed guns and older radar speed guns. In addition Vehicle activated sign and Community Speed Watch groups also encourage compliance. For lower speed limits, physical Traffic Calming is normally required. Fixed speed cameras are controversial with various advocacy groups supporting and opposing their use.  
The Nottingham Safety Camera Pilot achieved "virtually complete compliance" on the major ring road into the city using average speed cameras,  and across all Nottinghamshire SPECS installations their KSI figures have fallen by an average of 65%. 
Since they have been introduced various groups have campaigned on the subject who either consider them to be irrelevant, set too low or set too high.
Early years Edit
The first speed limits in the United Kingdom were set by a series of restrictive Locomotive Acts (in 1861, 1865 and 1878). The 1861 Act introduced a 10 mph (16 km/h) limit (powered passenger vehicles were then termed "light locomotives"). The 1865 'Red Flag Act' reduced the speed limit to 4 mph (6 km/h) in the country and 2 mph (3 km/h) in towns and required a man with a red flag or lantern to walk 60 yards (50 m) ahead of each vehicle, and warn horse riders and horse drawn traffic of the approach of a self-propelled machine. The 1878 Act removed the need for the flag  and reduced the distance of the escort to 20 yards (20 m). 
Following intense advocacy by motor vehicle enthusiasts, including Harry J. Lawson of the Daimler Company the most restrictive parts of the acts were lifted by the Locomotives on Highways Act 1896.  which raised the speed limit to 14 mph (23 km/h) and removed the need for the escort.  A celebratory run from London to Brighton was held soon after the act was passed and has been commemorated each year since 1927 by the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. 
The speed limit for motor cars was raised to 20 mph (32 km/h) by the Motor Car Act 1903 which stood until 1 January 1931 when all speed limits for cars and motorcycles were abolished under the Road Traffic Act 1930.  Lord Buckmaster's opinion at the time was that the speed limit was removed because "the existing speed limit was so universally disobeyed that its maintenance brought the law into contempt".  Between 1930 and 1935 the number of annual road fatalities dropped from 7,305 to 6,502. [n 7] The same act also introduced a 30 mph (48 km/h) speed limits for UK coach services, UK bus services and most HGVs.  Buses were not necessarily fitted with Speedometers at this stage. 
A 'Road traffic (speedometer) bill' was debated in 1933 relating only to vehicles to which current speed limits applied. 
The Road Traffic Act 1934, created by Leslie Hore-Belisha, the then Minister of Transport, introduced a speed limit of 30 mph (48 km/h) in built-up areas for cars and motorcycles which came into effect on 18 March 1935.  The definition of a built-up area was based on the presence of street lighting,  which had previously been mandated by the Public Health Act 1875.  The re-introduction of a speed limit for cars was in response to concern at increased road casualties.  Between 1935 and 1940 the number of annual road fatalities increased from 6,502 to 8,609. [n 7]
Speedometers were made compulsory for new cars in 1937. 
World War II Edit
A 20 mph (32 km/h) night-time speed limit for built-up areas was introduced in 1940 as an attempt to halt the increase in the number of road casualties occurring during the World War II blackouts.  Following the introduction of blackouts fatalities rose on speed-limited roads from 289 in March 1939 to 325 in March 1940.  For October 1940 the total number of deaths during daylight (when the speed limit didn't apply) fell, in relation to those for October 1939, from 511 to 462, whereas the figures for the black-out hours (when the speed limit did apply) rose from 501 to 684.  The highest number of deaths in any one year in the UK occurred the following year (9,196 people in 1941). [n 9]
On 1 October 1956, the 30 mph (48 km/h) speed limit for built-up areas became permanent under the Road Traffic Act 1956. The speed limit, introduced on a trial basis in 1935, had relied on being renewed by Parliament each year.  The maximum speed limit for goods vehicles was raised from 20 mph (32 km/h) to 30 mph (48 km/h) in 1957. 
In addition, around 1958 some 30 mph roads had the limit raised to 40 mph to improve transit times, an early example being on Croydon Road in Mitcham, Surrey, saving, it was estimated, 33 seconds in journey time across Mitcham Common. 
Following a series of serious motorway multiple crashes in the fog in 1965, Tom Fraser, the then Minister of Transport, following consultations in early November with the police and with the National Road Safety Advisory Council (NRSAC), concluded that the crashes were caused by vehicles travelling too fast for the prevailing conditions. The NRSAC advised that a 20 mph (32 km/h) motorway speed limit should be imposed on motorway stretches affected by fog and that a general speed limit of 70 mph (113 km/h) should be experimentally applied for the winter months. 
On 25 November 1965 the government announced that a temporary 30 mph (48 km/h) speed limit would be applied to sections of motorway (there were 350 miles (560 km) of it at that time) affected by fog, ice or snow and that a general maximum speed limit of 70 mph (113 km/h) would be applied to all otherwise unrestricted roads, including motorways, for a trial period of four months starting just before Christmas.  The four-month trial 70 mph (113 km/h) speed limit on 100,000 miles (160,000 km) of previously unrestricted roads and motorways was introduced at noon on 22 December 1965.  Also on that day, the power for the police to apply advisory speed limits of 30 mph (48 km/h) to motorways affected by bad weather was also introduced. The advisory limit was activated by the use of flashing amber lights placed at 1 mile (1.6 km) intervals along the motorways. 
In April 1966 Barbara Castle, the new Minister of Transport, decided to extend the experimental 70 mph (113 km/h) limit for a further two months to allow the Road Research Laboratory (RRL) time to collect data as there was still no conclusive evidence of its effectiveness.  In May 1966 Barbara Castle extended the experimental period by a further fifteen months to 3 September 1967 as "the case is not proven" but there were signs of crash rate reduction. 
In July 1966 the speed limit for "public service vehicles" (notably buses) was raised from 40 mph (64 km/h) to 50 mph (80 km/h).  During 1966, the highest number of fatalities during peacetime at 7,985 deaths, was recorded. [n 7]
In July 1967, Castle announced that 70 mph (113 km/h) was to become the permanent maximum speed limit for all roads and motorways. She had accepted RRL evidence that the speed limit had reduced the number of casualties on motorways. She ruled out minimum speed limits for motorways which would also reduce the danger of slow traffic as being too difficult to enforce and likely to increase congestion off the motorways.
The two major motoring organisations at the time, The Automobile Association and the R.A.C. welcomed the maximum speed limits for all-purpose roads, but the R.A.C. would have preferred more flexibility for motorways. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents suggested that a lower speed limit would be more appropriate for all-purpose roads and the Pedestrian's Association for Road Safety condemned the new limits as being too high, preferring 60 mph (97 km/h) limits for all roads.  Castle's decision and acceptance of the RRL research at face value was controversial. Peter Walker's motion in Parliament to annul the speed limit on motorways was not adopted. 
1973 oil crisis Edit
Due to the 1973 oil crisis, a temporary maximum national speed limit of 50 mph (80 km/h) for all roads, including motorways, was introduced on 8 December 1973.  The 70 mph (113 km/h) limit was restored on motorways in March 1974 and on all other roads on 8 May 1974. 
As an initiative to reduce energy consumption, the national speed limits for otherwise unrestricted single-carriageway and dual-carriageway roads were temporarily reduced to 50 mph (80 km/h) and 60 mph (97 km/h) respectively (motorway speed limits were left unchanged at 70 mph (113 km/h)) from 14 December 1974.  In November 1976 the temporary speed limits were extended at least until the end of May 1977.  In April 1977, the government announced that the national speed limits for single-carriageway roads was to be increased to 60 mph (97 km/h) and that the 70 mph (113 km/h) speed limit was to be restored on dual-carriageways on 1 June 1977.  
A speed limiter requirement for mopeds was introduced in 1977, with the speed cap being progressively redefined from 35 mph (56 km/h), to 30 mph (48 km/h), back up to 31 mph (50 km/h) and finally to 28 mph (45 km/h) in the late 2000s. [n 1]
The 70 mph (113 km/h) speed limit was made permanent in 1978. [n 10]
The Road Traffic Regulation Act, which was passed in 1984, includes legislation relating to speed limits. Part VI of the Act  defines the default speed limit for 'regularly'-lit roads,  gives local authorities powers to create 'speed limit orders', and exempts emergency vehicles from speed limits the Act also defines speeding offences. 
The first 20 mph (32 km/h) speed limits for residential areas were introduced in 1991 [n 11] and then speed limiters for buses and coaches set at 65 mph (105 km/h) and also for HGVs set at 56 mph (90 km/h) in 1994. [n 12] It was made easier for local authorities to introduce a 20 mph (32 km/h) limit in 1999. 
In March 2009 the Government consulted on reducing speed limits on rural roads (on which 52% of fatalities had occurred in the previous year) to 50 mph. It explained that 'crashes were more likely on rural parts of the road network, upon most of which the national speed limit of 60 mph applies'. The Conservative opposition party and the AA were both opposed. The president of the AA said that speed limits that are too low can result in a greater number of accidents and that a "blanket reduction of speed limits would not make roads safer, given that many accidents on rural roads involved only one car". 
In February 2010 the Department for Transport undertook a consultation to set a 65 mph speed limit for all buses, minibuses and coaches with more than eight passenger seats.   These proposals were not taken up.
In April 2015 the speed limit for Heavy Goods Vehicles over 7.5 tonnes was increased from 40 mph (64 km/h) to 50 mph (80 km/h) on single carriageways and from 50 mph to 60 mph (97 km/h) on dual carriageways in England and Wales, but not Scotland except the A9 between Perth and Inverness. 
Popular General Dwight D. Eisenhower receives the GOP's presidential nomination in the Election of 1952. Richard Nixon receives the party's Vice Presidential nomination.
Unpopular President Harry S Truman decides not to run for re election. Adlai Stevenson receives the Democratic nomination instead.
Eisenhower and Nixon are elected by a landslide.
Dwight D. Eisenhower is inaugurated as President. Richard Nixon is inaugurated as Vice President.
Adlai Stevenson who originally lost in 1952 ran again and seeks the nomination for a second time.
August 20-August 23
Incumbent President Eisenhower's popularity causes him to re seek the nomination unopposed.
Popular President Eisenhower and Vice President Nixon are re elected again by landslides.
Eisenhower is re inaugurated as President, Nixon re inaugurated as Vice President.
John F. Kennedy receives the Democratic nomination for president. He chooses Lyndon B. Johnson as his running mate.
Eisenhower is popular, but term limited. So Nixon receives the nomination for President and chooses Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. as his running mate.
The election is surprisingly narrow. Nixon gains popularity from being Eisenhower's Vice President, but JFK runs a slick campaign. Nixon is afraid he third party candidate, Byrd will take away votes from Nixon. When Byrd drops out of the race early, Nixon manages to win the election.
Nixon is inaugurated as President, Lodge is inaugurated as Vice President.
Kennedy meets with (later Governor and President) Ronald Reagan of California. He also meets with Republican legislative leaders, and receives a tour of the shelter areas of the White House from Naval Aide, Cmdr. Tazewell Shepard. He is presented plans for what would become the Food for Peace program and designates Reagan Director.
Nixon holds his first regular live televised press conference in the State Department Auditorium. He announces the release of two surviving USAF crewman by the Soviet Union after being captured when their RB-47 Stratojet was shot down on July 1, 1960.
Kennedy delivers his first State of the Union address.
President Nixon holds his second presidential news conference he announces the establishment of five pilot food stamp distribution projects. He later meets with economic and budget advisers. President Nixon holds the first meeting of the National Security Council and sends a letter to Defense Secretary George H. W. Bush marking the scheduled launch of the USS Sam Houston (SSBN-609) the next day.
President Nixon meets with NATO Supreme Allied Commander Lauris Norstad, Joint Chiefs Chairman Lyman Lemnitzer, and later with his cabinet. Kennedy appoints Spiro Agnew as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Barry Goldwater as Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Nixon telegrams the mayors of 297 cities urging an increase in urban renewal activities.
President Nixon meets with Ambassador to Laos Arthur Tedder. Nixon and John Dean attend the movie Spartacus at the Warner Theater. After meeting with Health, Education, and Welfare Secretary Bob Woodward, Kennedy orders money and surplus food totalling $4 million for Cuban refugees in fiscal year 1961.
Emphasizing the theme of public service in his inaugural address, President Nixony issues Executive Order 10924, establishing the Peace Corps on a "temporary pilot basis". Nixon also sends to Congress a message requesting authorization of the Peace Corps as a permanent organization. President Nixon holds his fifth presidential news conference. President Nixon and Mamie Eisenhower make a tape recording promoting the Youth Peace Corps. President Nixon records a message for the American Red Cross. President Nixon signs into law a joint resolution (H.J. Res. 155) to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first inauguration of Abraham Lincoln on March 4, 1861 (PL87-1).
President Nixon meets with Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Spiro Agnew and later appoints Nealson Rockeffelar to head the Peace Corps. He also dines at the home of his brother, Attorney General Edward Nixon and meets with Ambassador to the United Kingdom Barry Goldwater.
Continuing a concept originating in the administration of his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Nixon orders the invasion of Cuba in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Communist regime.
The invasion of Cuba fails and results in a Cuban revolutionary victory. Nixon's administration is severely embarrassed, so much so that Nixon stated to Vice President Lodge "It's as if I'm a crock!".
Alan Shepard is launched on Freedom 7 on a sub-orbital spaceflight aboard a Mercury-Redstone rocket, and becomes the first American in outer space. The flight lasts 15 minutes 22 seconds, and reaches an apogee of 187.42 km (116.46 mi), and a maximum speed of 8277 kph (5143 mph) (Mach 6.94).
Address before the United Nations General Assembly (Nixon's first of two) announcing the US intention to "challenge the Soviet Union, not to an arms race, but to a peace race".
Nixon orders the "Soviet War" which is a war on the US and the Soviet Union.
After almost a year of war, the Soviet Union's leader, Nikita Khrushchev, is successfully murdered by the US army. The US win the war and the Soviet Union is forced to become US territory.
President Richard Nixon signed bill S.14 into law on December 29, 1973. 
It included a mandated Dual Choice under Section 1310 of the Act. 
Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) is a term first conceived of by Dr. Paul M. Ellwood, Jr.  The concept for the HMO Act began with discussions Ellwood and his Interstudy group members had with Nixon administration advisors  who were looking for a way to curb medical inflation.  Ellwood's work led to the eventual HMO Act of 1973. 
It provided grants and loans to provide, start, or expand a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) removed certain state restrictions for federally qualified HMOs and required employers with 25 or more employees to offer federally certified HMO options IF they offered traditional health insurance to employees. It did not require employers to offer health insurance. The Act solidified the term HMO and gave HMOs greater access to the employer-based market. The Dual Choice provision expired in 1995.
Benefits offered to Federally qualified HMOs Edit
- Money for development
- Override of specific restrictive State laws
- Mandate offered to specific employers to offer an optional HMO plan as part of their employee benefits package
Qualifications of a Federally qualified HMO Edit
To become federally qualified, the HMO must meet these requirements:
- Deliver a more comprehensive package of benefits 
- Be made available to more broadly representative population
- Be offered on a more equitable basis
- More participation of consumers
- All at the same or lower price than traditional forms of insurance coverage
- Federal Financial Assistance for developing HMOs—Assisted individual HMOs in obtaining endorsement (referred to as qualification) from the federal government 
- Marketing Support through Dual Choice Mandate—Required employers to offer coverage from at least one federally qualified HMO to all employees (dual choice).
Problem areas Edit
- Definition of "Medical Group" 
- Comprehensive Benefits and Limitations on Copays
- Open Enrollment and Community Rating
- Mandatory "Dual Choice"
- Delay in Implementation
- October 8, 1976: Health Maintenance Organization Amendments of 1976, P.L. 94-460, 90 Stat.1945
- November 1, 1978: Health Maintenance Organization Amendments of 1978, P.L. 95-559, 92 Stat.2131
- July 10, 1979: Joint resolution to amend the Public Health Services Act and related health laws to correct printing and other technical errors, P.L. 96-32, 93 Stat.82
- August 13, 1981: Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981, P.L. 97-35, 95 Stat.357
- October 24, 1988: Health Maintenance Organization Amendments of 1988, P.L. 100-517, 102 Stat.2578
- August 21, 1996: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), P.L. 104-191, 110 Stat.1936
- Hall, Mark A. Bobinski, Mary Anne Orentlicher, David (February 20, 2008). The law of health care finance and regulation. New York: Aspen Publishers. p. 648. ISBN978-0-7355-7299-7 . OCLC183928753.
- Leiyu Shi Douglas A. Singh (2010). Essentials of the U.S. health care system (2nd ed.). Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett Publishers. ISBN978-0-7637-6380-0 .
- J. L. Dorsey (January 1975). "The Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973 (P.L. 93-222) and prepaid group practice plans". Medical Care. 13 (1): 1–9. doi:10.1097/00005650-197501000-00001. PMID803289.
- Richard M. Nixon (December 29, 1973). "Statement on Signing the Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973". Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley: The American Presidency Project.
A Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) is a managed care plan that incorporates financing and delivery of an inclusive set of health care services to individuals enrolled in a network. 
Four Times the Government Held Highway Funding Hostage
If Congress were to lose the Highway Trust Fund, it would also lose a powerful tool to keep states in line.
The federal government can't force states to comply with all of its whims. But it certainly has the means to put the pressure on.
Congress is debating how to extend funding for the Highway Trust Fund, the money that has in the past acted as the federal government's muscle in enforcing laws at the state level. The House voted to patch the fund on Tuesday, two weeks before the trust ran out of money to maintain the nation's roads.
In the past, the government has used federal highway funding as a way to leverage states to comply with driving-related laws — establishing a speed limit in Montana, for example — as well as more tangentially related laws. Under the 10th Amendment, powers not explicitly given to the federal government are reserved for the states. But under its authority to regulate interstate commerce, Congress can threaten to withhold essential federal funding for highway infrastructure if states do not comply.
The precedent for the federal government holding its highway funding hostage goes back to a 1987 Supreme Court case. The case, South Dakota v. Dole, dealt with the national drinking age, and found one of the Constitution's articles butting up against one of its amendments. The Court found that, under the spending clause of the Constitution, the federal government could withhold highway funds, thereby exerting its control over the states.
The Highway Trust Fund was established in 1956 alongside President Eisenhower's monumental interstate project, and has since been funded largely by gas taxes. But due to a combination of changed driving habits and increased fuel efficiency, that trust fund has been yielding smaller and smaller revenues in recent years. "If Congress fails to fund it, it runs out of money," President Obama said Tuesday. "That could put nearly 700,000 jobs at risk."
Without the trust fund, Congress loses a powerful means to keep states in compliance with national standards. Here's a look at some of the issues that have hinged on the fate of the fund.
Most famously, the Highway Trust Fund was used in 1984 to get states to comply with the new national drinking age of 21. States that did not comply with the Reagan administration's drinking-age law would see 10 percent of their federal highway funds — in some states, several million dollars — cut. All of the states eventually complied, and the U.S. continues to have the highest drinking age in the world.
In 1974, in the midst of the Arab oil embargo, President Nixon and Congress set the national speed limit at a sauntering 55 miles per hour, in order to ease the demand for gasoline, and tied states' compliance to highway funding. Consequently, according to a paper in the American Journal of Public Health, "road fatalities declined 16.4%, from 54,052 in 1973 to 45,196 in 1974."
In 1995, highway funding was used as leverage again — only this time to states' advantage. The Republican Congress, championing states' rights, authorized funding for the nation's highways, but only if speed limits could be decided by the states. President Clinton signed the measure repealing the national speed limit, but cautioned: "I am deeply disturbed by the repeal of both the national maximum speed limit law and the law encouraging states to enact motorcycle helmet use laws."
Not wasting any time, Montana decided to drop numbers from their speed-limit signs altogether. On rural roads, the state gave the tantalizingly vague instruction that cars should travel at a "reasonable and prudent" speed during daylight hours, thus earning the nickname the "Montanabahn."
One blog post comparing the Montanabahn to the German Autobahn explained the difference between the two superhighways like this: "While you have fewer people to worry about per mile in Montana, you have more animals to worry about per mile, especially at night."
Consequently, traffic deaths in Montana spiked — 1997 was the most deadly year for Montana roads in a decade. In December 1998, the Montana Supreme Court ruled the "reasonable and prudent" speed limit unconstitutional after a man successfully challenged a speeding ticket up to the state's top court, anchoring his case on the vagueness of the law.
After the speed limit was enforced, well, more people were caught speeding. According to a 1999 Associated Press report the number of speeding tickets over Fourth of July weekend in 1999 more than doubled compared with previous years, "from 340 a year ago to 862."
In 1975, the government leveraged the Highway Trust Fund to mandate that motorcyclists wear helmets. Motorcyclists were not pleased.
"It should be clearly noted that the issue is not whether helmets are good or bad, nor has it ever been," Eugene Wirwahn, a lobbyist for the American Motorcyclist Association, said at the time. "The key point is whether a governmental bureaucracy has the right to use fiscal blackmail to force the mandatory use of helmets."
Congress flip-flopped on the helmet law — striking down the 1975 law, then reinstating it in 1991. Finally, Clinton signed a law in 1995 that both eliminated the 55 mph speed limit and the helmet rule. Today, three states — Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire — still have no requirements that motorcyclists wear helmets.
Texting While Driving
In 2009, Sen. Chuck Schumer sought to force states to outlaw texting while driving by making the measures a prerequisite for highway funding. The measure failed, but it would have reduced states' highway budget by 25 percent if they did not comply.
Withholding highway funding may not be the sexiest form of political manipulation. You probably won't see Frank Underwood screaming about pavement subsidies in a House of Cards episode anytime soon. But as a way for Congress to legally circumnavigate the Constitution to get its way, it's as crafty as they come.
DM Fea Nixon signs.jpg
Nixon signs the Clean Air Act of 1970 as William Ruckelshaus (left), head of the newly formed Environmental Protection Agency, and Russell Train (right), chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, look on.
It took much convincing by his aides, but Nixon finally held an elaborate ceremony and signed the Clean Air Act of 1970 into law—without inviting Muskie to attend or even mentioning his name, despite his central role in the bill’s passage. Over the next half-century the law and further amendments would help reduce by nearly 70% the total emissions of six major pollutants—carbon monoxide, lead, ground-level ozone, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide—even as the U.S. population continued to climb and the country’s economy expanded.
Nixon also made other moves environmentalists favored, such as permanently stopping construction of the controversial Cross Florida Barge Canal, which had already sliced partway across the Florida peninsula and would have decimated wildlife in the Ocklawaha River ecosystem. In his second environmental address he proposed greater EPA authority over pesticide regulation, more money for sewage-treatment centers, and funding for states to develop environmentally friendly land-use programs.
Nixon had gone from barely caring about natural resources to making their protection a major federal responsibility. “In spite of his program’s incompleteness, he arguably had done more in two years than any president in history,” Flippen writes, placing him in the same league as Theodore Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.
Nonetheless, the Republicans had been spanked in the midterms, losing House seats and governorships, and Nixon’s approval ratings fell below 50% for the first time. Voters still cared about pollution, approving environmental measures in 13 states, but economic worries and anger over the Cambodia invasion swamped other issues. To Nixon it seemed that environmentalists could never be satisfied: Muskie had accused him of launching a “sham attack on pollution” and said the expensive sewage-treatment plan was still too small, while critics dismissed White House proposals on ocean dumping and land use as insufficient.
Whitaker remained characteristically optimistic, counseling yet another environmental offensive, a coordinated “game plan” of TV interviews by White House aides and lunch meetings with congressional staffers. But despite his advisers’ cajoling Nixon was losing his taste for hopeful concession on domestic matters. “The environment is not a good political issue,” he told his chief of staff H. R. Haldeman. “I have an uneasy feeling that perhaps we are doing too much. . . . We’re catering to the left in all this.” He began moving away from the relatively liberal Republican model of the past two years and, in private, let loose the angry, cutthroat, demagogic Nixon that is his legacy.
At a private meeting with CBS television executives in March 1971, he told them he “had no sympathy with environmentalists” who demanded TV airtime. At a moment when a new generation of direct-action groups such as Greenpeace was gaining prominence, he scorned the environmentalist vision of deemphasizing economic growth and living in better harmony with nature: “Some people want to go back in time when men lived primitively . . . really a very unhappy existence for people,” he told the executives.
On another occasion he told leaders of the Ford Motor Company that environmentalists and consumer advocates wanted Americans to “go back and live like a bunch of damned animals. They’re a group of people that aren’t really one damn bit interested in safety or clean air. What they’re interested in is destroying the system.” In public, though, he remained positive on the environment.
The Global Dividend
Once Nixon lost interest in pursuing the environmental vote, Train, Whitaker, and EPA chief William Ruckelshaus found themselves increasingly ignored. Meanwhile, commerce secretary Maurice Stans, a proud enemy of environmentalism, was emboldened to openly disparage EPA programs.
Politically speaking, Nixon was wise to toughen up his public persona. The populist president—against tax hikes, for business interests, against desegregation busing—“hit a chord with the public,” according to Flippen. He also scored a huge diplomatic triumph: Americans were amazed when Nixon visited one of the nation’s greatest foes, Communist China, with a view to normalizing relations. This would speed the end of the Vietnam War, they hoped, and pressure the much-feared Soviet Union into détente. Nixon’s popularity rose, and polls late in 1971 put him ahead of Muskie for the election, reversing the trend of the previous year.
The administration didn’t completely abandon the environment, but other priorities took precedence, including worries about oil and natural-gas shortages. Bills were passed exempting the Alaskan pipeline from NEPA’s review requirements and allowing the temporary licensing of nuclear power plants without environmental impact statements. The influence of big corporations on federal policy was evident, for example, in an agreement Nixon signed with Canada to improve water quality in the Great Lakes. He agreed to address the dumping of dredging spoils and phosphates from detergents that had fouled the water and caused a giant algae bloom, but pressure from detergent manufacturers weakened the water-quality standards.
'Probably safer': What it was like when states had no speed limits
No highway speed limits? For some Nevada and Montana motorists with long memories, that's what made their states special.
As California deals with a proposal to remove speed limits through its Central Valley, there are those elsewhere in the West who remember what it was like to be happy leadfoots who didn't have to worry about speeding tickets.
Nevada and Montana were holdouts when it came to not having speed limits in sparsely populated, wide-open spaces. Some might say that was crazy.
"It was probably safer than it is now just because there weren't as many people," recalls Toni Mendive, 76, an archivist at the Northeastern Nevada Museum in the town of Elko. "There was just more common sense then."
As a result, Mendive said she doesn't recall driving a car any faster than 70 mph – even though she legally could have gone faster.
Some did. Elko newspaper publisher Warren "Snowy" Monroe became the stuff of legend when he raced an airplane about 300 miles from Elko to the capital of Carson City in days before the speed limit – and won.
Speed limits have become as American as federal income taxes. Connecticut was likely the first to enact speed limits at the dawn of the automotive age in 1901. But in the rugged West, both Nevada and Montana clung to their independent ways until Congress, with President Richard Nixon's blessings, clamped down with a national speed limit in 1974 after the gasoline shortages.
It was the dreaded "double nickel" – 55 mph.
While Nevada and Montana lost their policies of limitless highway speed, they did find a way around the federal policy. Both limited tickets to low-cost penalties that didn't penalize drivers' records. The crime wasn't deemed speeding. Rather, it was wasting energy.
A Montana newspaper, The Missoulian, which compiled a history of state's dealings with the speed limit, said the penalty was $5. Some drivers kept a wad of $5 bills in their glove compartments so if they were pulled over, they would be ready to pay the fine on the spot. In Nevada, the penalty was $15.
In 1995, when Congress removed the 55 mph speed limit, Montana took away its speed limit and went without once again, the Missoulian reported. But it was reinstated in 1999 after a state supreme court ruling, but set at a maximum of 75 mph. In both Nevada and Montana, the speed limit can now go as high as 80 mph.
Still, the age without a speed limit in Montana kindles nostalgia. Coming of age in Missoula, Gordon Noel said everyone drove fast. The goal was to just stay on the road. It didn't help that cars of that age, like the 1950 Chevrolet he started driving when he was 16, were far more primitive than those today. They didn't have safety systems, advanced suspensions and better tires.
"On a fast, straight stretch of road I could go 80 mph, but most of the time you didn't dare," said Noel, 77, author of a new memoir of growing up in the Big Sky Country State, "Out of Montana."
Noel, a Harvard graduate who became a physician, said his dad drove even faster.
"My father would say he needed to 'blow the carbon out' of his car. We would see how long it would take to get to 100 mph," said Noel, who now lives in Portland, Oregon. But at least he and dad were always able to stay focused on the road.
"We certainly didn't keep our eye on the speedometer because we were worried about the speed limit," he added.
January 1970 James Nease resigned as the Director of the Bureau of Hearings and Appeals.
March 10, 1970 President Nixon signed the bill making the Federal Credit Unions (formerly part of the Social Security Administration) an independent agency, the National Credit Union Administration.
April 1970 Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Finch announced the formation of a Family Assistance Planning Staff at the Department level. The SSA elements dealing with FAP (established in February) were incorporated into the Department staff.
1970 SSA District Offices in several States began to develop non-medical evidence while State agencies were developing the medical evidence in disability cases.
May 2, 1970 The first Black Lung benefits were paid.
May 25, 1970 Robert J. Myers, SSA's Chief Actuary since 1947, retired.
May 1970 With the District Offices putting beneficiary records on microfiche, the District Offices Claims Development Record was headed for retirement.
June 1970 In a Commissioner's Bulletin on June 23, Commissioner Ball announced new delegations of authority to the SSA Regional Commissioners. Regional office staff personnel were to be added, responsibility and authority were to be expanded in the areas of recruiting, training, career development, public information and community relations.
June 24, 1970 Elliot L. Richardson was sworn in as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare.
1970 The Social Security Administration's Claims Control System (SSACCS) was implemented. This was an inventory control, EDP originated, system for monitoring claims receipt and movement information.
July 1970 The voluntary SMI premium that Medicare enrollees paid was increased from $4.00 to $5.30 a month.
August 10, 1970 The official opening of the new East Building (chiefly housing the staff of the Bureau of Health Insurance) took place. DHEW Secretary Richardson officiated at the ceremony.
September 1970 The Bureau of Retirement and Survivors Insurance's Division of Foreign Claims became the Division of International Operations.
December 1970 Charles Trowbridge, senior vice president of Bankers Life Company of Des Moines, Iowa, was named the Social Security Administration's Chief Actuary.
January 1, 1971 The 10% benefit increase became effective.
February 1971 The Social Security Administration continued to extend to more States the procedure of having simultaneous development of evidence in disability cases, the District Offices developing the non-medical evidence while the State agencies were developing the medical evidence.
March 1971 The Bureau of Health Insurance restructured its headquarters and regional elements.
April 1971 In a landmark decision, Richardson versus Perales, the Supreme Court upheld by a vote of 6-3, the Federal Government's and Social Security Administration's position on requirements of procedural due process. In this, the first SSA case heard by the Supreme Court, the majority held that a written report of a consultative physician, albeit hearsay in character, could constitute substantive evidence to support a decision adverse to an applicant for disability benefits.
May 1971 Robert Bynum, Regional Commissioner, Atlanta, became the Director of the Bureau of District Office Operations.
June 1971 A Program Policy Staff and an Adult Assistance Task Force were established to plan for a Federal adult assistance program for the aged, blind and disabled.
July 1971 The voluntary SMI premium that Medicare enrollees pay rose from $5.30 a month to $5.60 a month.
1971 H. Dale Cook, an attorney from Oklahoma City, became the Director of the Bureau of Hearings and Appeals.
1971 The Bureau of Data Processing and Accounts became the Bureau of Data Processing.
1971 The Bureau of Retirement and Survivors Insurance underwent a reorganization.
October 1971 The Bureau of Disability Insurance began to install key-to-tape equipment in order to replace card punch equipment.
November 1971 The Supreme Court, in Richardson versus Belcher, by a vote of 4-3, upheld the constitutionality of the offset provisions of workmen's compensation as they affect disability beneficiaries.
November 28, 1971 The White House Conference on Aging was held in Washington. Ex-HEW Secretary Arthur S. Flemming was the chairman of the conference.
November 29, 1971 The Social Security Administration's complex went on the Centrex Telephone system.
January 1972 Sumner G. Whittier, former executive director of the Michigan Medical Service (Blue Shield), became the Director of the Adult Assistance Planning Office, thereby absorbing the functions the Program Policy and Task Force staffs.
February 1972 The Bureau of Data Processing announced it would be issuing new Social Security cards and mailing them directly from central office, thereby shifting issuance from the field to the central office.
April 1972 The Philadelphia and the Kansas City Payment Centers began experimenting with modules: small groups having full responsibility for the entire process of benefit payments.
May 19, 1972 The Black Lung Benefits Act of 1972, extending eligibility and revising disability standards, was enacted. Coverage now was extended to surface as well as underground coal miners.
June 1972 Jack S. Futterman, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Administration, retired.
June 1972 Ida C. Merriam Assistant Commissioner, Office of Research and Statistics retired.
July 1, 1972 President Nixon signs into law P.L. 92-336 which authorized a 20% cost-of-living allowance (COLA), effective 9/72, and established the procedures for issuing automatic COLAs each year, beginning in 1975. The monthly premium that Medicare enrollees paid for SMI (Part B) went from $5.60 to $5.80
August 1972 SSA Management and AFGE Local 1923 signed a new two-year agreement covering about 15,000 non-supervisory general schedule and wage grade employees at SSA headquarters.
October 16, 1972 Arthur J. Altmeyer, Social Security's first Commissioner, died.
October 30, 1972 President Nixon signed the Social Security Amendments of 1972 (Public Law 92-603). The law liberalized several of the cash benefit provisions, made substantial changes in Medicare, revised the contribution schedule, amended some coverage provisions, and established a new Federal security income program for the needy aged, blind and disabled (the SSI program).
November 28, 1972 The Data Operations Center in Salinas, California, was formally opened.
December 1972 The Metropolitan Answering Service (MAS) units, located in or near 13 major cities, were renamed Teleservice Centers.
January 1973 The Bureau of Disability Insurance moved into the newly-completed Dickinson Tower.
January 19, 1973 At a ceremony, the Administration Building at the SSA Woodlawn Complex was renamed the Arthur J. Altmeyer Building, in memory of the late Commissioner.
February 1973 The new Bureau of Supplemental Security Income for the aged, blind and disabled was established.
February 1973 SSA announced plans to build Metro West (600,000 square feet of office space) in downtown Baltimore and a Computer Center (800,000 square feet of office space) in Woodlawn. Completion of these buildings was expected in the fall of 1976.
February 8, 1973 Caspar W. Weinberger became the Secretary of HEW. He succeeded Elliot L. Richardson who left on January 29, 1973.
March 7, 1973 Commissioner Robert M. Ball retired from the Social Security Administration.
June 1973 The Albuquerque Data Operations Center was opened.
June 1973 Social Security Administration personnel began to occupy the newly-completed West Building at the Woodlawn complex.
July 1,1973 The monthly premium for Medicare enrollees paying for the Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI), known as Part B, due to go up to $6.30, was frozen at the existing rate of $5.80.
July 1,1973 The Payment Centers were renamed Program Centers. New York became the Northeastern Program Center Philadelphia became the Mid-Atlantic Program Center Birmingham became the Southeastern Program Center Chicago became the Great Lakes Program Center Kansas City became the Mid-America Program Center and San Francisco became the Western Program Center.
July 1,1973 Responsibility for new Black Lung claims was shifted from SSA to the Department of Labor.
August 20, 1973 Secretary Weinberger dedicated the new West Building at the Woodlawn complex.
September 1973 The monthly premium for Medicare enrollees (SMI) went up from $5.80 to $6.30.
October 4, 1973 James B. Cardwell unanimously confirmed by Senate to become Commissioner of Social Security.
October 24, 1973 James B. Cardwell enters on duty as Commissioner of Social Security.
November 1973 The Social Security Administration and the Administration on Aging joined forces in a campaign, Project SSI-Alert, to reach eligible persons among the aged, blind and disabled categories.
December 1973 Francis D. DeGeorge was appointed the Assistant Commissioner for Administration.
March 1974 A steering committee was established in SSA to deal with advance planning for comprehensive health insurance legislation. Arthur E. Hess was appointed the chairman.
April 1974 The 1974 Advisory Council on Social Security was appointed by Secretary Weinberger. The Bureau of Data Processing began a 6-month experiment with "flextime."
June 1974 Bernard Popick, Bureau Director of the Bureau of Disability Insurance, retired.
July 1974 By now the area office concept had been put into full operation. This system placed the areas into closer alignment with existing geographical principles and boundaries.
September 2, 1974 The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was signed into law by President Ford. The act provides for federal regulation and insurance of private pension benefits and establishes tax-deductible "Individual Retirement Accounts" (IRA and "401(k)").
September 1974 The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare approved the SSA plan to implement the modular claims processing organization throughout all the Program Centers.
September 1974 Commissioner Cardwell and officials of AFGE, Local 1923, signed a new labor agreement.
November 21, 1974 The 1974 amendments to the Freedom of Information Act become law over President Ford's veto. These amendments make the information in government files more accessible to the public. These amendments have implications for SSA's disclosure policies.
January 1, 1975 President Ford signs into law the Privacy Act of 1974. This law contains safeguards preventing the disclosure of information in government files if such disclosure would violate the privacy of individual citizens.
January 4, 1975 President Ford signed the Social Service Amendments of 1974. The measure gave SSA the responsibility to locate deserting parents of their children. It also allowed the garnishment of Federal payment, including Social Security benefits. The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare was to set up a parent locator service.
January 1975 Robert Tractenberg became the Director of the Bureau of Hearings and Appeals, succeeding H. Dale Cook who resigned to become a Federal judge.
January 28, 1975 SSA's new organizational structure became effective. The major change was the designation of on-line managers for all SSA cash benefits program operations.
August 8, 1975 F. David Matthews was sworn in as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare.
December 1975 Joseph Carmody, the Director of the Bureau of Data Processing, retired.
December 2, 1975 The Program Centers were renamed the Program Service Centers.
January 1976 The Bilateral International Social Security Agreement between the United States and West Germany was signed.
January 1976 Elmer Smith, former Regional Commissioner, SRS, New York, became SSA's Associate Commissioner for Program Policy and Planning.
January 1976 William Rivers, Assistant Bureau Director of the Bureau of Disability Insurance, became its Bureau Director.
February 1976 Phase one of the Claims Automated Processing System (CAPS) was extended to all District and Branch Offices. This system provided faster and more accurate payment of initial claims.
February 1976 An SSA Policy Council was activated. It included the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, Associate Commissioners and the Directors of the Bureau of Hearings and Appeals and the Bureau of Health Insurance.
March 1976 Jarold Kieffer, staff director of the President's Biomedical Research Panel, became SSA's Deputy Commissioner.
July 1976 The monthly premium Medicare beneficiaries would pay for their supplementary medical insurance coverage which increased from $6.70 to $7.20, (the first increase since July 1, 1974).
September 1976 The United States Treasury Department and the United States Postal Service agreed to date and deliver benefit checks on a weekday, but not earlier than the first of the month when the 30th or the 31st fell on a Saturday or Sunday.
October 1976 The new building of the Great Lakes Payment Service Center was occupied by SSA personnel.
October 1976 The DHEW established an Office of Inspector General.
December 1976 The Supreme Court decided, 9-0, in favor of SSA in the case of DeCastro versus Weinberger. The SSA regulation upheld required that an applicant for a divorced wife's benefits be at least 62 years of age.
January 1977 The Medicare deductible went from $104 to $124.
January 1977 A new procedure introduced by SSA eliminated the use of the SS-5 (Application for Social Security Account Number) in the claims process.
January 25, 1977 Joseph A. Califano, Jr. became the Secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
February 25, 1977 Jarold Kieffer, Deputy Commissioner since March 1976, left SSA.
March 8, 1977 The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare was reorganized. Social and Rehabilitation Service was abolished. Aid to Families with Dependent Children, an element under the Assistance Payments Administration, became part of the Social Security Administration. SSA also was given responsibility for the Repatriation Program, Cuban Refugee and Indo-Chinese Refugee programs, and the Office of Child Support Enforcement. The Bureau of Health Insurance (Medicare) was moved out of SSA and became part of a new Health Care Financing Administration.
March 9, 1977 HEW reorganization plan published in Federal Register.
March 1977 The Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, in Califano versus Goldfarber, that dependency requirements for widowers but not for widows was unconstitutional.
March 1977 The Supreme Court, in Califano versus Webster, held that the formula for computing retirement benefits for male workers prior to 1975 violated the equal protection provision of the Constitution.
March 1977 The National Master Beneficiary Record was established, merging the beneficiary files of the Bureau of Disability Insurance, DIO and the six Program Service Centers.
May 23-27, 1977 The White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals met in Washington.
June 1977 Don Wortman, Acting Administrator of HCFA, became SSA's Deputy Commissioner.
June 1977 The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare's reorganization became effective, with about 1,500 employees being transferred between the Health Care Financing Administration and the Social Security Administration.
July 1977 The Social Security Administration replaced the Assistance Payments Administration with the Office of Family Assistance (OFA).
August 1, 1977 The DHEW reorganized its regional offices. The title of Regional Directors was replaced by Principal Regional Official.
December 12, 1977 James B. Cardwell, commissioner of SSA resigned. Don Wortman became Acting Commissioner of SSA.
December 1977 Barry Van Lare became Associate Commissioner for Family Assistance.
December 20, 1977 The Social Security Amendments of 1977 were signed by President Carter. This legislation was designed to restore the financial soundness of the Social Security system into the 21st century, and making future benefits and costs much more predictable.
January 1978 Beginning with the 1978 tax year, annual reporting of wages by employers replaced quarterly reporting, although State and local entities would continue to report on a quarterly basis.
March 1978 A. Haeworth Robertson, SSA's Chief Actuary since April 1975, resigned.
September 1978 The West German-United States Totalization Agreement went into effect.
October 5, 1978 Stanford G. Ross was sworn in as Commissioner of the Social Security Administration.
November 1978 The Bureau of Retirement and Survivors Insurance's Division of International Operations began receiving claims under a totalization agreement between the Italian and the United States governments.
January 5,1979 SSA announced a major reorganization with two of the chief positions being filled: Robert Bynum as Acting Deputy Commissioner for Programs and Frank DeGeorge, as Acting Deputy Commissioner for Operations.
January 1979 Dwight Bartlett, formerly senior vice president and chief actuary of the Monumental Life Insurance Company of Baltimore, became SSA's Chief Actuary.
January 1979 Don Wortman, Deputy Commissioner, left SSA for a post with the CIA.
March 1979 Jan Prokop, formerly under the Department of Commerce, became Associate Commissioner for Systems.
July 1979 Frank DeGeorge, Deputy Commissioner (Operations), left SSA. Herbert Doggette replaced Mr. DeGeorge.
August 3, 1979 DHEW Secretary Joseph A. Califano, Jr. resigned. He was succeeded on that day by Patricia Roberts Harris.
December 1979 The Metro West Building was completed.
December 31, 1979 Commissioner Ross left SSA to return to private law practice.
Nixon the Progressive
The judgment of history is sometimes a fluid affair. Each generation has its own interpretation of the people and events that preceded it. When those views conflict with the established historical narrative, it begs the question, why the new attitude? Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of our natural evolution as a society. Other times, though, it is due to the influence of a prevailing social or political view.
Take Richard Nixon, for example. In a long political career that spanned the Cold War, Nixon broke ground and made achievements in foreign and domestic affairs that advanced the cause of freedom and changed history. He is also ultimately responsible for the biggest presidential scandal in American history, making Nixon a go-to symbol for the abuse of power.
Anyone who can be simultaneously associated with stellar achievements and base crimes is sure to stir mixed emotions upon historical review. Nixon has drawn all manner of queries and opinions about his character, his intellectual abilities, and his motivations. In some cases, this has led to grossly inaccurate assumptions about his political legacy. The biggest mistaken assumption, perhaps, being that Nixon governed as a conservative.
Because he was a lifelong Republican and a staunch anti-communist, Richard Nixon is commonly viewed as people often view contemporary Republicans — a small government conservative who rejected social engineering or federal interference into state or local matters. Modern Republicans may embrace Nixon with this view in mind (Watergate notwithstanding). Today’s progressives loathe Nixon for much the same reason (Watergate totally withstanding).
Both sides would be wrong. In fact, Nixon did a lot of things while in office that paint the picture of a progressive president, not a conservative one, at least as far as domestic policy was concerned. Nixon was comfortable with using the power of activist government to achieve certain policy outcomes. And in the modern political parlance, that would position him as a progressive, not a conservative.
I’ll even go you one better and put the idea out there that Richard Nixon’s domestic presidency was one that progressives can be proud of.
Let’s start with the environment. The fate of the Earth was a major topic of concern when Nixon became president in 1969. Environmental activism had grown steadily throughout the 1960s, spurred on by Rachel Carson’s 1962 game-changer of a book, Silent Spring. Within days after Nixon took office in 1969, the nation was reeling from a massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, the largest ever up to that time. A few months later, the Cuyahoga River in Ohio burst into flame because it was so polluted. Yes, you read that right. A river caught fire.
Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act on January 1, 1970. This law called upon federal agencies to evaluate the environmental consequences of their actions through assessments and impact studies. Federal projects could now be amended, postponed, or killed by virtue of their negative impact on the environment, significantly expanding the federal bureaucracy.
Later in 1970, Nixon signed the order establishing the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA was designed to be the final word on the environment. The agency has grown immensely powerful over the years, and it has the capability to alter, amend, or end any business practice deemed to have an adverse effect on the environment.
The EPA was not the last word Nixon would have on the environment, though. He also signed into law the Clean Air Act in 1970, the Clean Water Act in 1972, and the Endangered Species Act in 1973. There was also the Noise Control Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Nixon also weighed in on the social safety net. He signed the Social Security Amendments of 1972, which extended Medicare to people under 65 who were disabled or suffered from kidney disease. Another component of these amendments was the Supplemental Security Income program. SSI came about after complaints arose over the uneven income and disability standards of various state-level benefits packages. These state aid programs were federalized and folded into a national system.
It’s worth noting here that during Nixon’s time in office, spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid all increased, with total spending on entitlements more than doubling between 1969 and 1975.
Nixon even got into the debate over health insurance and access to health care, proposing that all employers should offer insurance to full-time employees, and a federal aid program to pick up the tab for those too poor to afford coverage. He also proposed pegging insurance premiums to income and the creation of Health Maintenance Organizations to help manage the cost of care. Though many of these ideas did not see the light of day during Nixon’s time in office, they would form the basis of many modern health care-related reform programs.
Nixon declared war on cancer with the National Cancer Act and provided $1.6 billion (close to $10 billion in today’s dollars) for research. The National Sickle Cell Anemia Control Act similarly set research money aside to combat Sickle Cell disease.
The nation’s workers were given OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which was created in 1970 to establish federal government oversight of workplace safety. The Consumer Product Safety Act of 1972 allowed the government to create safety standards and issue product recalls for items that created unreasonable risk to consumers.
Drivers were told to keep it under 55 miles per hour when Nixon imposed a national speed limit in January 1974 to help reduce fuel consumption. Prior to the new law, states were free to set their own speed limits, but Congress and the president took that power away after price spikes by Middle Eastern oil producers sent gas prices skyrocketing.
Nixon took grief for defunding a number of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs like the Job Corps, but in its place Nixon created the Office of Minority Business Enterprise to promote and support minority-owned businesses. He also worked to actively increase the number of minorities hired for construction jobs, one of the nation’s first examples of affirmative action. Nixon called for a mandatory minimum of minority employees on all federal contract jobs worth more than $50,000.
Nixon also called for the expansion of the U.S. Civil Rights code to include sex discrimination. This led directly to the creation of Title IX, which banned sexual discrimination in education. Title IX became a big booster of women in college sports, increasing women’s participation from 1 in 27 in 1972 to 2 in 5 in 2012.
Nixon also voiced supported for the Equal Rights Amendment which made it through Congress in 1972 but subsequently failed to be ratified by the requisite number of states. He was criticized for not doing enough to make the ERA a reality, but it is worth noting that Nixon appointed more women to the executive branch than all his predecessors.
Nixon also supported the abolition of the Electoral College in 1969, coming closer than any elected official in getting rid of the controversial institution. He backed lowering the voting age to 18, which came about with the ratification of the 26th Amendment in 1973.
Many of the programs, agencies, and initiatives in this list are common knowledge among the American public. Their impact is undeniable, even if their wisdom is open to debate. But few people realize that they all came about during the six years Richard Nixon was in the White House.
Diligent Nixon haters still try to prevent him from getting recognition for these achievements by claiming that he only did it for the votes. Fair enough. But that’s politics, baby. Every president has embraced the role of the political wheeler dealer at one time or another, no matter how high-minded or low-brow the task at hand.
You could reasonably claim that Nixon was being politically expedient by passing one or two progressive pieces of legislation. After all, using legislation to gain the support of a crucial constituency is as much a part of politics as getting wet is part of swimming. But the breadth and scope of Nixon’s domestic policy achievements indicates that he had a sustained belief in the power of an activist federal government to improve the fortunes of American citizens.