During the campaign of 1952, Eisenhower criticized the statist or big government programs of Truman’s Fair Deal, yet he did not share the extreme views of some Republican conservatives. These “Old Guard” Republicans talked about eliminating not just Fair Deal but also New Deal programs and rolling back government regulation of the economy. Eisenhower favored a more moderate course, one that he called Modern Republicanism, which preserved individual freedom and the market economy yet insured that government would provide necessary assistance to workers who had lost their jobs or to the ill or aged, who through no fault of their own, could not provide for themselves. He intended to lead the country “down the middle of the road between the unfettered power of concentrated wealth . . . and the unbridled power of statism or partisan interests.”
As President, Eisenhower thought that government should provide some additional benefits to the American people. He signed legislation that expanded Social Security, increased the minimum wage, and created the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. He also supported government construction of low-income housing but favored more limited spending than had Truman.
Just a few excerpts from the 1956 Republican party platform, which surely was influenced significantly by the incumbent Eisenhower.
America does not prosper unless all Americans prosper.Government must have a heart as well as a head. Courage in principle, cooperation in practice make freedom positive. The record of performance of the Republican Administration on behalf of our working men and women goes still further. The Federal minimum wage has been raised for more than 2 million workers. Social Security has been extended to an additional 10 million workers and the benefits raised for 6 1/2 million. The protection of unemployment insurance has been brought to 4 million additional workers. There have been increased workmen’s compensation benefits for longshoremen and harbor workers, increased retirement benefits for railroad employees, and wage increases and improved welfare and pension plans for federal employees.
In addition, the Eisenhower Administration has enforced more vigorously and effectively than ever before, the laws which protect the working standards of our people.
Workers have benefited by the progress which has been made in carrying out the programs and principles set forth in the 1952 Republican platform. All workers have gained and unions have grown in strength and responsibility, and have increased their membership by 2 millions.