A Decade-Long Drift to Public "Conservatism" Redefining the Federal Roles in Social Welfare: Anticipating the Future and Preparing for It
Robert Morrisand John E. Hansan
The future cannot be a continuation of the past, and there are signs, both internally and externally, that we have reached a point of historic crisis.
Eric Hobsbaum, The Age of Extremes
Recent national elections have transformed the perennial debate over how much of the national income should be allocated for social welfare, how broadly or narrowly the welfare responsibility of government should be defined, what populations or institutions should receive benefits or administer them, and how the costs should be divided. Today, the debate is over the nature of governance. Seriously proposed are plans to reverse the evolution in public policy which began with President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and the "revolution" of the 1930s in which major responsibility for individual and social or economic well-being was shifted from states and localities to the national government. The system that evolved over the past fifty years placed with the national government the management of about 30 percent of the gross national product (GNP) and fixed both the relationships among federal and state governments, business, and private organizations and federal responsibility for individual well-being through the taxing and cycling of $1.25 trillion annually into the economic lifestream of the nation.
It is not clear whether this new effort to radically change our existing