The Great Society: Lessons for the Future

By Eli Ginzberg; Robert M. Solow | Go to book overview

4
What does it do for the poor? --a new test for national policy

ROBERT J. LAMPMAN

JOHN F. Kennedy's slogan was, "Let's get the country moving again." He sought to reduce unemployment and increase the rate of economic growth without causing inflation or a deficit in the balance of payments. His emphasis was on efficiency and, although he did press for such New Deal-Fair Deal measures as civil rights, health insurance, and aid to education, his Administration placed higher priority on an investment tax credit, research and development outlays, and, above all, a Keynesian tax cut designed to spur economic recovery.

Lyndon B. Johnson's vision of a "Great Society" emphasized equity. He foresaw a nation where no one would have to live in poverty and all would have sufficient money income, public services, and civil rights to enable them to participate with dignity as full citizens. It would be an affluent society, but also a compassionate one, one that called for sacrifice by the majority to bring out the talents and willing cooperation of previously submerged and disadvantaged minorities.

It is right to call the war on poverty--first enunciated in President Johnson's State of the Union message and promptly endorsed by Congress in the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964--a logical extension of Franklin D. Roosevelt's Social Security Act and Harry S.

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