Gerald Ford as President
Gerald Ford served as little more than a
caretaker in the White House until the election of 1976. Though
he received bad press after pardoning Nixon in September 1974, Ford’s presidency
was unblemished by scandal. However, economic crisis tarnished his
time in office.
Ford proved more conservative than Nixon in his domestic
politics. He vetoed measures aimed at social welfare, environmental
protection, and civil rights. A Democratic Congress overrode most
of these vetoes. Ford’s woes increased with the Arab oil embargo, in
effect from October 1973 to March 1974, which devastated the U.S.
economy. Rising oil prices sparked enormous inflation, which hit
12 percent in 1974. In October of that year, Ford initiated the
“Whip Inflation Now” program (WIN), but instead of reversing inflation
and stabilizing the economy, his efforts threw the economy into
a recession, with unemployment reaching 11 percent in 1975.
In 1975, Ford and Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev, along
with the leaders of thirty-one other states, signed the Helsinki
Accords, which solidified European boundaries and promised
to respect human rights and the freedom to travel.