The Real Legacy in Jeopardy Under the New Congress? LBJ’s.

Roundup
tags: LBJ, election 2016, Medicare, Great Society, Affordable Care Act, Trump, Medicaid



Josh Zeitz has taught American history and politics at Cambridge University and Princeton University and is the author of Lincoln’s Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln's Image. He is currently writing a book on the making of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. Follow him @joshuamzeitz.

Since the Republican Party’s unexpected triumph November 9, pundits and columnists have debated nonstop the meaning of a Trump presidency for Barack Obama’s legacy. 

Will Republicans scrap the Affordable Care Act? Will they roll back groundbreaking environmental protections? Will they reorient American foreign policy away from traditional allies? Will they pack the Supreme Court with ultra-conservative jurists?

To be sure, Obama’s legacy is very much on the line. Yet remarkably, so is that of Lyndon B. Johnson.

Johnson left office in 1969, the victim of self-inflicted political wounds over Vietnam. But in the half-century since his presidency, much of his Great Society remains intact. Health care for the elderly and poor. Categorical aid to primary and secondary education. Civil rights and voting rights. Nutritional assistance for hungry children. These programs not only survived successive Republican administrations. They thrived, and in some cases, grew under presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. 

Until now.

With majorities in both houses, congressional Republicans under the leadership of House Speaker Paul Ryan have signaled their plans to disassemble not just the Affordable Care Act, but also Medicaid and Medicare; to steer federal education policy away from public schools and toward charters and vouchers; to roll back voting rights and civil rights enforcement; and to make steep cuts to nutritional programs. And, despite the fact that many of these changes could have negative consequences for Trump’s base, the president-elect hasn’t signaled any resistance. ...




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