Why the "War on Poverty" Isn't OverRoundup: Historians' Take
tags: LBJ, War on Poverty
(CNN) -- In a State of the Union address 50 years ago this month, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared "unconditional war on poverty." Over the next year and a half, anti-poverty warriors developed new health insurance programs for the elderly and the poor, increased Social Security benefits and introduced food stamps and nutritional supplements for low-income pregnant women and infants. They established Head Start programs for young children, Upward Bound and Job Corps programs for teenagers, and work-study opportunities for college students.
It is often forgotten that this was a bipartisan campaign. A Republican president, Richard Nixon, and legislators from both sides of the aisle expanded the War on Poverty in the early 1970s. Nixon extended the reach of the food stamp program, added an automatic cost-of-living increase to Social Security and instituted the Supplemental Security Income system to benefit disabled adults and children. He even proposed a guaranteed national income though that died in the Senate after passing in the House.
The truth is that the war on poverty produced some stunning successes, many of which are still felt today. And it likely could have produced more if politicians hadn't abandoned it in the 1980s, at the very moment that America's working families were facing heightened assaults on their living standards.
In 1963, despite more than 15 years of prior economic expansion, the child poverty rate was almost 25%. By the early 1970s it had been lowered to 15%. Between 1967 and 1975, poverty among elders was cut in half....
comments powered by Disqus
- How Will Obama Be Graded By History?
- The controversy behind the painting that will hang at Trump’s inaugural luncheon
- A nation of dissent: The most famous inaugural protests in U.S. history
- German Vice Chancellor Condemns Populist's Holocaust Remarks
- Arizona scuttles bill that took aim at whiteness studies
- Jack Rakove tells League of Women Voters Electoral College needs to be abolished
- Juan Cole says Chelsea Manning’s leaks contributed to the revolution in Tunisia
- Bacevich and Mearsheimer on Obama’s Legacy
- Where Historians Work: An Interactive Database of History PhD Career Outcomes
- GW history department targeted by conservative media after curriculum change was announced