Domestic Policies in the Kennedy & Johnson Years

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Transcript Domestic Policies in the Kennedy & Johnson Years

Domestic Policies in the Kennedy
& Johnson Years
Mr. Daniel Lazar
Election of 1960
• Bi-Elections of 1958
– Dems gained 15 Senate seats (62-34), 48 House
seats (282-153) and 6 governorships
– 1958 recession, Republican policy of lowered farm
price supports, labor opposition to state right-towork laws
Election of 1960
• In Chicago, Republicans choose VP Nixon w/
Henry Cabot Lodge as VP
• In L.A.…
– Stevenson – Lost twice already
– LBJ – Southern and rural ties
– JFK – won second Senate term in 1958. Won over
activist wing. Chosen on first ballot
– “I now know the difference between a caucus and a
cactus: in a cactus, all the pricks are on the outside.”
Election of 1960
• Democrats raised the issue of a "missile gap" since the Soviet
successful launch of the first earth satellite on 4 Oct 1957,
Sputnik I, blaming Republican laxness
• Republicans pledged a health program "on a sound fiscal basis
and through a contributory system," reaffirmed IKE's foreign
policy and called for an expanded national defense program
and strong civil rights bill, including enforcing the right to vote
and desegregation of public schools.
– Made an issue of the youth and inexperience of 43 year
old JFK. Catholic issue.
• Kennedy Speech at ministers’ meeting in Houston
diffused the Catholic issue.
• Four TV debates diffused the inexperience issue
The Election of 1960
• Population: 179,245,000
• Kennedy 34,226,731 / Nixon 34,189,157
– 118,574 vote differential
– 49.7% to 49.6%
• Kennedy won 303 electoral votes (22 states)
to 219 (26 states)
– Sen. Harry Byrd D-VA: anti-est., anti-integrationist
got 15 EC votes
Election of 1960
Camelot: Kennedy’s New Frontier
• A New Frontier for the US, outer space.
• Est. a grand and noble alliance to combat
tyranny, poverty, disease and war and served
notice that the US would “pay any price” to
assure survival and the success of liberty
• A New Deal without A Crisis? A New Deal for the
Rest? A New Deal without popular support?
• The Best and Brightest
Camelot: Kennedy’s New Frontier
• Minimum wage raised to $1.25
• Housing Act of 1961
• Fed funds for public transit
• Subsidize middle class housing
• Preservation of open space
• “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor,
it cannot save the few who are rich.” -JFK
Camelot: Kennedy’s New Frontier
• Gemini Program
– Response to Yuri Gagarin, first man in space, 12 April
– "No nation which expects to be the leader of other
nations can expect to stay behind in this race for
space.” (12 Sept 1962)
• Peace Corps
– Young volunteers went to 3rd World as educators,
health workers, and technicians
– Help implement human resource and economic
development programs
Camelot: Kennedy’s New Frontier
• Alliance for Progress
– 10-point plan of Inter-American cooperation, designed to
launch a "decade of democracy" in Latin America
– $100 billion, of which 20% was pledged by the US
– Goals: increasing the GNP by 2.5% annually, a more
equitable distribution of national income, industrial
growth and increased agricultural productivity, price
stability, agrarian and tax reforms, extension of education,
improvement of public health and medical services, and
increased low-cost housing.
– Quickly became a foreign aid program based on bilateral
negotiations between the US and individual Latin
American nations.
JFK and Civil Rights
"The denial of constitutional rights to some of
our fellow Americans on account of race - at the
ballot box and elsewhere - disturbs the national
conscience, and subjects us to the charge of
world opinion that our democracy is not equal
to the high promise of our heritage.“
-JFK’s First SOTU, January 1961
JFK and Civil Rights
• 23rd Amendment, March 1961, gave DC 3 electoral
• Despite rhetoric, Kennedy believed the grassroots
movement for civil rights would anger Southern whites
and make it impossible to get support in Congress,
which was dominated by conservative Southern Dems
• RFK said we must "keep the president out of this civil
rights mess“.
• RFK urged the Freedom Riders to "get off the buses
and leave the matter to peaceful settlement in the
JFK and Civil Rights
• But, in 1963 he became more proactive. In
summer, he intervened when Alabama Governor
George Wallace blocked the doorway to the
University of Alabama. But not enough…
• March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on
August 28, 1963
• Set the stage for what became CRA 1964
• J. Edgar Hoover convinced (?) JFK that King was a
commie and a public menace. Wire tapping and
perpetual harassment.
Women’s Rights
• Dec 1961, est. Presidential Commission on
the Status of Women. Chaired by Eleanor
• June 1963, Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act amended Fair Labor Standards Act.
New Frontier Failures
• Coalition of Repubs and S. Dems stymie
– Medicare defeated (again)
– Medicaid never hit the floor
– Fed aid to education. Nope.
– Civil Rights
– Mass transit
• Defense Budget increased 20% in 3 years
• Unfinished business…
Snapshot of JFKS Foreign Policy
• Massive Retaliation, too inflexible, was replaced by
Flexible Response Doctrine
• Mar 1961 - Peace Corps est.
• Mar 1961 - Alliance for Progress
• April 1961 - Bay of Pigs Fiasco
• Aug 1961 - Berlin Crisis
• Oct 1962 - Cuban Missile Crisis
• Feb 1963 - backed coup against the government of Iraq
headed by Abd al-Karim Qasim, who 5years earlier had
deposed the Western-allied Iraqi monarchy
• Aug 1963 - Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
• Vietnam
The Assassination
• 22 Nov 1963
• Warren Commission
conducted hearings and
concluded that Lee
Harvey Oswald acted
• 24 Nov, killed by Jack
Lyndon Baines Johnson
• Pushed for many of Kennedy's proposals and
kept most of JFK's personnel, taking advantage
of Kennedy's popularity as President (61%
approval at time of death) and his martyrdom
• SOTU Address 1964, announced his Great
Society program, declaring a War on Poverty
Election of 1964
• Democrats in Atlantic City nominated LBJ
– Hubert Humphrey (MN) as VP
• Republicans in San Francisco
– After moderates/liberals clashed with conservatives, Sen
Barry Goldwater (AZ) for President and Rep. William E.
Miller (NY) for VP
• Goldwater attacked the federal income tax, Social Security,
TVA, civil rights legislation, nuclear test-ban treaty
– In your heart you know he's right!
• Johnson painted himself as a cautious, astute leader and
portrayed Goldwater as a war-monger, countering with
– In your guts you know he's nuts!
Election of 1964
• Daisy Ad
• Both candidates vowed to stay out of war
– “We are not about to send American boys 9 or 10
thousand miles away from home to do what Asian
boys ought to be doing for themselves.” LBJ in
– “I was told that if I voted for Goldwater that we
would be at war in six months. I did and we were.”
–William F. Buckley Jr.
Election of 1964
• Johnson's landslide of 486 (44 states & DC) to
52 electoral votes (5 Southern states -- SC, GA,
AL, MS, LA + AZ)
• 43,129,484 (61%) to 27,178,188 (38.5%)
• Dems strengthened their Congressional
– Senate - 68-32
– House - 295-140
• With this sweeping electoral mandate…
The Johnson Treatment
The Treatment could last ten minutes or four hours. It came,
enveloping its target, at the Johnson Ranch swimming pool, in one of
Johnson's offices, in the Senate cloakroom, on the floor of the Senate
itself — wherever Johnson might find a fellow Senator within his
reach. Its tone could be supplication, accusation, cajolery, exuberance,
scorn, tears, complaint and the hint of threat. It was all of these
together. It ran the gamut of human emotions. Its velocity was
breathtaking, and it was all in one direction. Interjections from the
target were rare. Johnson anticipated them before they could be
spoken. He moved in close, his face a scant millimeter from his target,
his eyes widening and narrowing, his eyebrows rising and falling. From
his pockets poured clippings, memos, statistics. Mimicry, humor, and
the genius of analogy made The Treatment an almost hypnotic
experience and rendered the target stunned and helpless.
-Rowland Evans & Robert Novack. Lyndon B. Johnson: The Exercise of
Power. 1966.
LBJ’s War on Poverty
• Eradicate poverty in the richest nation in the history of the
world. Aid, education, job training
• Michael Harrington’s The Other America
• 45 million in poverty
• Minimum wage was increased to $1.40 per hour ($160 in
1968) and was expanded to include workers in retail stores,
restaurants and hotels
• Kennedy-Johnson Tax Cuts lowered the rates from 20-91%
to 14-70% over 2 years. Focus on middle class tax cuts.
– "... the paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high and
revenues too low; and the soundest way to raise revenue in the
long term is to lower rates now.“ (JFK in 1963)
• Economic Aid to Redevelop Appalachia
LBJ’s War on Poverty
• Economic Opportunity Act, Aug 1964. Created Office
of Economic Opportunity to coordinate efforts
against illiteracy, unemployment and inadequate
public services and included:
– AmeriCorps VISTA – national service. “Domestic
Peace Corps”
– Job Corps, 1964-1994 - (age 16-24, like CCC)
– Neighborhood Youth Corps
– Upward Bound
– Small-business loans and incentives
• 1963-69, poverty declined from 23% to 12%.
LBJ’s War on Poverty
“Making a speech on economics is a lot like
pissing down your leg. It seems hot to you, but it
never does to anyone else.”
– quoted in Name-Dropping by John Kenneth
Galbraith, p. 149
LBJ: Investing in the Future
• Johnson taught mostly Mexican children at the Welhausen
School in Cotulla, 90 miles south of San Antonio
• Elementary and Secondary School Act April 1965 provided
aid to needy school districts
– School breakfast and lunch
– 1964 = 41% HS graduation rate. 88% today.
• National Foundation of the Arts and Humanities Sept 1965
provided assistance for painters, actors, dancers, musicians
and other artists.
• Higher Education Act Oct 1965, the first federal
– 70% of undergrads today receive fed aid
• Public Broadcasting Act provided financial assistance to
non-commercial educational TV and radio broadcasting.
Urban Renewal
• Housing Act - Aug 1965 established rent
supplements to low-income families to aid their
move into private housing
• Department of Housing and Urban Development
(HUD) - A new Cabinet post in Sept 1965 - first
Black Cabinet member Robert C. Weaver
• New Cabinet post, Department of Transportation
• Community Action Program (CAPS)
Urban Renewal
The American city should be a collection of communities
where every member has a right to belong. It should be a
place where every man feels safe on his streets and in the
house of his friends. It should be a place where each
individual’s dignity and self-respect is strengthened by the
respect and affection of his neighbors. It should be a place
where each of us can find the satisfaction and warmth which
comes from being a member of the community of man. This is
what man sought at the dawn of civilization. It is what we
seek today.
-Special message to the Congress on the nation's cities (March
2, 1965);
Health Care
• Medicare July 1965 provided medical care to
the aged through the Social Security System,
• Medicaid for the poor
• Food Stamp Act
Civil Rights
• 24th Amendment, Jan 1964, banned a poll tax.
• "No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently
honor President Kennedy's memory than the earliest
possible passage of the Civil Rights Bill for which he
fought so long."
• Civil Rights Act of 1964 barred discrimination in public
– Authorized the Attorney General to institute suits to
desegregate schools or other public facilities
– Outlawed discrimination in employment on the basis of
race, color, religion, sex or national origin
– Upon signing CRA 64, Johnson might have said, "We have
lost the South for a generation."
Civil Rights
• Voting Rights Act Aug 1965 - suspended literacy and
other voter tests. Required federal supervision of
registration. 7 of 11 Rebel States subject to
preclearance. 2013 SC ruling?
• LBJ denounced the Klan as a "hooded society of
bigots," and warned them to "return to a decent
society before it's too late." Johnson was the first
President to arrest and prosecute members of the Klan
since Ulysses S. Grant
• Immigration Act of 1965, eliminated quotas
• Appointed first Black to the SC, Thurgood Marshall
Civil Rights
You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying:
'now, you are free to go where you want, do as you
desire, and choose the leaders you please.' You do not
take a man who for years has been hobbled by chains,
liberate him, bring him to the starting line of a race,
saying, "you are free to compete with all the others," and
still justly believe you have been completely fair... This is
the next and more profound stage of the battle for civil
rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity—not
just legal equity but human ability—not just equality as a
right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result.
-LBJ in the Commencement Address at Howard
University on June 4, 1965 on affirmative action
Or Does it Explode?
• Long hot summers
Harlem 1964
Watts 1965, Epic
Newark 1967, “Newark burned”
Detroit 1967, Gov George Romney sent in the troops
• LBJ est Kerner Commission to study the riots
• MLK assassinated summer ‘68. Riots across US…
"What did you expect? I don't know why we're so
surprised. When you put your foot on a man's neck and
hold him down for three hundred years, and then you let
him up, what's he going to do? He's going to knock your
block off.“ -LBJ
The Warren Court
• Mapp v. Ohio – evidence seized illegally cannot
be used in court
• Gideon v. Wainright – free legal counsel to
indigent defendants
• Escobedo v. Illinois – accused has a right to have
counsel present
• Miranda v. Arizona – suspect must have rights
• Engle v. Vitale – outlawed compulsory school
Other Johnson Era Accomplishments
• Gun Control Act of 1968, one of the largest and
farthest-reaching federal gun control laws in
American history. In part, a response to the
murders of JFK, RFK and MLK
• Apollo Missions
• Clean Air and Water Acts
• Wilderness Preservation Act (9 million acres)
• Truth in Lending Act
• Truth in Packaging Act
Other Johnson Era Accomplishments
• “If the circumstances make it such that you can't fuck a man in the
ass, then just peckerslap him. Better to let him know who's in
charge than to let him think he's got the keys to the car.”
– Private comment, found in White House Tapes: Eavesdropping on the
President (2003)
• “I want loyalty. I want him to kiss my ass in a Macy’s window at high
noon and tell me it smells like roses. I want his pecker in my
– On the qualities of a Presidential Assistant
• “If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac
River, the headline that afternoon would read: "President Can't
Swim.“ –On the press and the “credibility gap”
• “Being president is like being a jackass in a hailstorm. There's
nothing to do but to stand there and take it.”
Snapshot of LBJ Foreign Policy
• Dominican Republic - supported the overthrow of left-wing,
democratically elected president Juan Bosch. US intervened to evacuate
US civilians. 22,000 Marines were in the DR. OAS intervention resulted in a
provisional government which conducted “free elections”, in which
Joaquin Balaguer was elected president.
• Outer Space Treaty Jan 1967, Set up principles for the peaceful
exploration of space
• Six-Day War June 1967
• Seizure of the Pueblo 1968. US naval intelligence-gathering vessel was
captured by the North Koreans, claimed it was in Korean territorial waters.
North Korea released 82 crew members and one body, kept the ship
• Vietnam & The Credibility Gap
– “I believe we can continue the Great Society while we fight in
Assessment of Great Society: Successes
• Provide opportunity & provide human dignity
• Health: Medicare and Medicaid, Nursing Homes,
Senior Centers, Infant Mortality Rate (esp. for
• Civil Rights: Voting Rights Act, CRA 1964,
Education, De-Segregation
• Poverty relief to the elderly and the disabled
• Public Housing. Housing as a right. Quality?
• Inner City Infrastructure (e.g. San Francisco and
Washington rail lines)
Assessment of Great Society: Successes
• Education: Head Start, College Opportunities
& Literacy
• Consumer Protection: Environmental
Protection & Truth in Packaging
• High Hopes and High Expectations
• Proactive and compassionate government
• Governmental Leadership & Action
Assessment of Great Society: Failures
• Cities declined in spite of billions spent.
– People who could afford to leave cities usually did
– Public Housing was an utter failure
– An authoritarian approach: treating the inner-city
like an occupied territory.
• Race: not far enough. 47% AA children in
• Federal Bureaucratization of Schools. A
state/local issue?
Assessment of Great Society: Failures
• Welfare: poverty remains, but tax dollars are
still being spent.
– Give a man a fish…
– Welfare vs. Workfare
• Exploding Health Care Costs
• Jeffersonian self-governance? Emersonian
• Vietnam Impact…
Assessment of Great Society: Failures
Progressive Reform, The New Deal and The
Great Society all came to a tragic halt when
America’s entrance to war diverted the nation’s
physical, economic and emotional resources
away from domestic problems.
…LBJ died on January 22, 1973 at age 64, one
day before a ceasefire was signed in Vietnam
Election of 1968, Nixon’s Landslide
• Nixon IKE VP
• DNC Split
• Sen McCarthy (MN)
• Sen McGovern (SD)
• Gov Wallace (AL)
• Sen RFK (MA)
• LBJ VP Humphrey
• Realigning election –
ended New Deal Coalition
that had dominated
presidential politics for 36
• Nixon 43% - 301
• Humphrey 42.7% - 191
• Wallace – 13.5% - 46