What did President Eisenhower do in the area of domestic policy to be labeled as a "caretaker" president?  

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Eisenhower won the White House on an essentially moderate platform. While the Democrats were experiencing a great deal of voter backlash, Eisenhower and the Republicans made it clear that they would not go about dismantling much of the government apparatus put in place by the New Deal. Programs like the Tennessee Valley Authority and Social Security would continue to exist. Once president, he took the position that while these reforms would not be rolled back, the government would pursue a less interventionist role in the economy and society. He presided over multiple balanced budgets and generally disassociated himself from the intensely partisan rhetoric of many in his party, especially his vice president Richard Nixon. He warned repeatedly about the dangers of excessive government, most notably in the area of defense, which he called the "military-industrial complex." 

It should be noted, however, that Ike did on occasion take a very active role in government, with one prominent example being his personal order that Little Rock Central High School be integrated, and using federal troops to ensure that it happened. Despite his rhetoric, he also presided over a massive growth of government, as new cabinet positions were added, agencies were created (including NASA) and the Interstate Highway System, a massive public works project, began. Many of the charges that he was simply a "caretaker" came from the supporters of John F. Kennedy, who charged in the 1960 election that he had been less than diligent in managing the Cold War as well as with dealing with America's domestic problems.

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