Economic Stabilization Act 84 Stat. 799 (1970)

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This measure authorized the most comprehensive peacetime economic regulation in American history. The act extended a temporary sweeping delegation of power which authorized the President "to issue such orders and regulations as he may deem appropriate to stabilize prices, rents, wages, and salaries at levels not less than those prevailing on May 25, 1970." It authorized federal courts to issue injunctions to enforce the presidential orders and mandated a $5,000 penalty for violation. A Democratic Congress passed the act at a time of persistent inflation; Republicans charged it was an election-year ploy attacking President richard m. nixon for failure to curtail rising unemployment, high interest rates, and a balance of payments deficit.

Nixon signed the measure but indicated he would have preferred to veto it and had no intention of using its authority. He opposed committing vast regulatory power to presidential discretion; if Congress favored controls, he said, it should "face up to its responsibilities and make such controls mandatory." One year later, amid growing disapproval of his economic policies, Nixon used the act to impose a ninety-day freeze on wages, prices, and rents. The President twice requested and received congressional extension as "in the public interest." The act was allowed to expire in 1974.

Paul L. Murphy


Silk, Leonard 1973 Nixonomics. New York: Praeger.

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Economic Stabilization Act 84 Stat. 799 (1970)

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