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A poor relationship with the Democrats in Congress inhibited Carter's ability to achieve his much of his legislative agenda.
Assess the reasons for President Carter's difficult relationship with Congress and its effect on his domestic policies
Carter was a strong advocate for the gay rights, both during and after his presidency.
Carter's appointee as Director of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration tried to raise health standards for corporations, but many of her reforms aroused opposition and were not enacted.
Carter presided over the energy crisis, addressing energy shortages through a combination of regulation and conservation.
Carter attempted to inspire Americans to see the energy and economic problems as related to consumerism and excessive desire in American culture--a profound but politically unpopular strategy--through speeches and his own sacrifice of luxuries.
Carter gave his "malaise speech," a major speech about the energy crisis, attempting to address the "crisis of confidence" among the American public.
Carter had problems securing the loyalty of his cabinet, firing five members in 1979 and thus enhancing perceptions that his administration was weak.
The 1973 oil crisis started in October 1973, when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries or the OAPEC (consisting of the Arab members of OPEC, plus Egypt, Syria and Tunisia) proclaimed an oil embargo. Because of the embargo, the price of oil quadrupled by 1974.
Carter successfully campaigned as a Washington "outsider" critical of President Gerald Ford, as well as the Democratically-controlled U.S. Congress. As president, Carter continued this theme. However, his refusal to play by the rules of Washington contributed to the Carter administration's difficult relationship with Congress.
During the first 100 days of his presidency, Carter wrote a letter to Congress proposing several water projects be scrapped. Among the opponents of Carter's proposal was Senator Russell Long, a powerful Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee. Carter's plan was overturned and bitterness became a problem for him. A rift grew between the White House and Congress. Carter wrote that the most intense and mounting opposition to his policies came from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, which he attributed to Ted Kennedy's ambition to replace him as president.
Carter wrote in 1982 that Senator Ted Kennedy's disagreements with Carter's proposed health-care reform plan thwarted Carter's efforts to provide comprehensive health-care for citizens outside the Medicare system.
Some progress was made in the field of occupational health following Carter's appointment of Dr. Eula Bingham as Director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Bingham drew from her experience as a physiologist working with carcinogens to raise and simplify standards, redirect the office's resources to industry groups with the worst records, while enacting occupational particulate, lead and benzene exposure standards and regulations on workers' right to know about workplace hazards, including labeling of toxic substances. Bingham enacted many of these provisions over the opposition of not only Republicans, but also some in the Carter Admnistration itself. Ultimately, many of her proposed reforms were never enacted, or were later rescinded.
In 1973, during the Nixon Administration, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) reduced supplies of oil available to the world market, in part because of deflation of the dollars they were receiving as a result of Nixon leaving the gold standard and in part as a reaction to America's sending of arms to Israel during the Yom Kippur War. This sparked the 1973 Oil Crisis and forced oil prices to rise sharply, spurring price inflation throughout the economy and slowing growth. The U.S. government imposed price controls on gasoline and oil following the announcement, which had the effect of causing shortages and long lines at filling stations for gasoline. The lines were quelled through the lifting of price controls on gasoline, although oil controls remained until Reagan's presidency. Significant government borrowing helped keep interest rates high relative to inflation. Carter told Americans that the energy crisis was "a clear and present danger to our nation" and "the moral equivalent of war" and drew out a plan he thought would address it.
In 1977, Carter convinced the Democratic Congress to create the United States Department of Energy (DoE) with the goal of conserving energy. Carter set oil and natural gas price controls, had solar hot water panels installed on the roof of the White House, had a wood stove in his living quarters, ordered the General Services Administration to turn off hot water in some federal facilities, and requested that all Christmas light decorations remain dark in 1979 and 1980. Nationwide, controls were put on thermostats in government and commercial buildings to prevent people from raising temperatures over 65°F in the winter or lowering them below 78°F in the summer.
As reaction to the energy crisis and growing concerns over air pollution, Carter also signed the National Energy Act (NEA) and the Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA). The purpose of these watershed laws was to encourage energy conservation and the development of national energy resources, including renewables such as wind and solar energy.
When the energy crisis set in, Carter was planning on delivering his fifth major speech on energy; however, he felt that the American people were no longer listening. Carter left for the presidential retreat of Camp David. "For more than a week, a veil of secrecy enveloped the proceedings. Dozens of prominent Democratic Party leaders—members of Congress, governors, labor leaders, academics and clergy—were summoned to the mountaintop retreat to confer with the beleaguered president. " On July 15, 1979, Carter gave a nationally-televised address in which he identified what he believed to be a "crisis of confidence" among the American people. This came to be known as his "malaise" speech, although Carter himself never uses the word in the speech.