The Great Society
Lyndon B. Johnson
• Bull Dog
– “A Machiavelli in a
• In the shadow of JFK
• Political assets
• Tender ego
– “Why don’t people like
What was the Great Society?
“The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all. It demands an end to
poverty and racial injustice, to which we are totally committed in our time. It is a
place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his
talents. It is a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a
feared cause of boredom and restlessness. It is a place where the city of man serves
not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for
beauty and the hunger for community. It is a place where man can renew contact
with nature. But most of all, the Great Society is not a safe harbor, a resting place,
a final objective, a finished work. It is a challenge constantly renewed, beckoning
us toward a destiny where the meaning of our lives matches the marvelous
products of our labor.”
Although the Great Society program made significant contributions to the
protection of civil rights and the expansion of social programs, critics
increasingly complained that the antipoverty programs were ineffective and
The Great Society was never fully funded because of the Vietnam War, which
drained available resources.
What was the War on Poverty?
• The War on Poverty (1964-1968) was a
campaign of legislation and social services aimed at reducing or
eliminating poverty in the United States of America. The term was first
introduced by Lyndon B. Johnson during his State of the Union
address on Jan. 8, 1964. The legislation was designed in response to
the poverty affecting over 35 million Americans as of 1964. The
poverty line was on a sharp decline and not a rise nor fluctuation at the
time Johnson was campaigning.
– "This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional
war on poverty in America." - Lyndon B. Johnson
• forty programs that were intended to eliminate poverty by improving
living conditions and enabling people to lift themselves out of the
cycle of poverty.
• February 1964 - tax reduction bill
– cut $10 billion
– spurred economic growth
– shrank the budget deficit to $4 billion
• VISTA or Volunteers in Service
to America created by Lyndon
Johnson's Economic Opportunity
Act of 1964, was a domestic
version of the Peace Corps.
• August 1964 - Economic Opportunity Act(to promote Health, Education and general welfare)
– established. the Office of Economic Opportunity
– Job Corps is a program in the U.S. administered by the U.S. federal government Dept.
Labor and run by various agencies for disadvantaged and at-risk youth to give them a job and
social skills to succeed in the workforce.
• Since its inception in 1964, Job Corps has provided more than 2 million disadvantaged
young people with the integrated academic, vocational, and social skills training they need
to gain independence and get quality, long-term jobs or further their education. Job Corps
continues to help 70,000 youths annually at 118 Job Corps centers throughout the country.
• Besides vocational training, many Job Corps also offers GED programs as well as high
school diplomas and programs to get students into college.
– Project Head Start a program of the US government’s Department of Health and
Human Services which focuses on assisting loe-income children , through five years of age; so
that they are prepared for school.
– public works and training programs
– Funds for loans to college students and small businesses
– spent 1.7 billion a year between 1965-1968
• Congress increased spending
– Increased food stamps
– $1.4 Billion to states for hospitals and health
– $375 Million to cities to help in mass-transit
• August 1964 - Wilderness Act
– Set aside 9 million acres
• National Forest and National Park land declared
– Americans could continue to use and enjoy
– kept out dams, buildings, roads and automobiles.
– Kept out ranchers, lumber companies and mining
• July 1965 - Medicare bill
– citizens over 65 received low-cost hospital
• Financed by an increase in the social security tax.
• Medical insurance and out-of -hospital expensesgov’t would pay 1/2
– Medcaid- from taxes.
• Provided federal funds to the states that wanted to
set up their own plans to help needy people under
age 65..
• Elementary and Secondary Education Act
Continuation of the National Defense Education Act.
1965 to provide guidance and funds to K-12 schools.
Aid to education (1.3 billion)
to stimulate the advancement of education in science, mathematics,
and modern foreign languages
– provided aid in other areas, including technical education, area
studies, geography, English as a second language, counseling and
guidance, school libraries and librarianship, and educational media
– provides institutions of higher education with 90% of capital funds
for low-interest loans to students.
• Housing and Urban Development Act- 1965
– Aided in construction of a quarter of a million
unit of low-income public housing.
– Urban Renewal
– Rents of low-income were subsidized by the
– Department of Housing and Urban
Development. (HUD)
• Immigration Act- 1965
– Race, religion, colour and national origin, was no longer factors in
the selective process.
– Immigrants were to be admitted by their skills and professions
rather than by their nationality.
– An annual limitation was established of 170,000 visas for
immigrants from eastern hemisphere countries with no more than
20,000 per country. By 1968, the annual limitation from the
western hemisphere was set at 120,000 immigrants, with visas
available on a first-come, first-served basis.
• Civil Rights Act
– established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
– made racial discrimination in public places, such as theaters,
restaurants and hotels, illegal. It also required employers to provide
equal employment opportunities. Projects involving federal funds
could now be cut off if there was evidence of discriminated based on
colour, race or national origin.
– To enforce the constitutional right to vote, to confer jurisdiction upon
the district courts of the United States to provide injunctive relief
against discrimination in public accommodations, to authorize the
Attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in
public facilities and public education, to extend the Commission on
Civil Rights, to prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs,
to establish a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity, and
for other purposes.
Policies- War in Vietnam
• Economic Costs:
– LBJ believed that the United States could simultaneously wage war and fulfill
the goals of the Great Society. As it turned out, however, the United States,
could not afford to invest in both "guns" and "butter."
– The war cost the United States more than $140 billion. Vietnam drained
American coffers, took money away from Johnson's ambitious domestic
programs, and undermined his ambitious Great Society.
– In Vietnam, the last sustained war the nation fought, the United States spent
$111 billion during the eight years of the war, from 1964 to 1972. Adjusted for
inflation, that's more than $494 billion, an average of $61.8 billion per year, or
$5.15 billion per month. The Pentagon is spending nearly $5 billion per month in Iraq and
Afghanistan, a pace that would bring yearly costs to almost $60 billion
• Human Costs:
– The war left 58,000 American soldiers dead and more than 300,000 wounded.
Numerous American soldiers also returned home with crippling and long-lasting
psychological wounds.
Policies- A Tax Surcharge
• To slow down inflation and pay the everhigher costs of the Vietnam war.
• Temporary 10% surcharge on taxes in 1967pay your regular tax and then add 10% to it.
• Nation debt (deficit) rose from $3.8 Billion
in ‘66 to $8.7 Billion in ‘67 to $25.2 Billion
in 1968
How do these
policies indirectly
affect the economy?
Housing and Urban Development Act

The Great Society - Waverly