The Great Society was the name for Johnson’s domestic agenda (analogous to FDR’s New Deal). It demonstrated the height of liberal policymaking in the post-World War II era. Unlike the New Deal, it occurred during a time of prosperity for most Americans. By the end of Johnson’s presidency, the liberal Great Society was undergoing criticism from both the Right and the Left.
In 1963, President Lyndon Johnson attended a joint meeting of Congress and vowed to ensure economic opportunities and ensure their freedom and justice for all to live a better life. In May 1964, at a speech at the University of Michigan, Johnson spoke about his vision for a liberal Great Society that was thinking about creation. By fighting racism and eliminating poverty, the reform of the Johnson administration changed the country.
The legislation passed in parliament in 1965 was the Primary and Secondary Education Act. Johnson was a former teacher and knew that lack of education was the main cause of poverty and other social problems. Educational reform was therefore an important pillar of the society he wanted to create. The law increased federal funding for both primary and secondary schools and allocated more than $ 1 billion to purchase books and library materials and create educational programs for underprivileged children. The higher education law, passed by law, created a team of teachers that provided scholarships and low-interest loans for the poor, increased federal funding to universities, and served schools in poor areas.
He also focused on consumer protection and passed legislation that set car safety standards, food safety, and warning labels on cigarette packages. To protect the environment, the Johnson administration enacted laws to protect air and water, regulate solid waste disposal, protect wilderness areas, and protect endangered species. In 1965, he encouraged Congress to pass an immigration nationality law. This law lifts strict restrictions on immigrants from Asia and prioritizes migrants with connections to US families. This measure opened the door to a new era of immigrants and enabled the formation of Asian and Latin American immigrant communities in the coming decades.
In 1965, Johnson passed the Social Security Act, because the elderly were the poorest and most disadvantaged citizens. The biggest change caused by this was the creation of a policy in which the US government compensated for medical costs for people over the age of 65, which was Medicare. The American Medical Association, who feared the creation of a national health system, opposed it, but the new program was favored by most citizens because it would benefit not only the poor but all social classes. The law and subsequent amendments also provided compensation for self-employed employees in certain occupations and increased the number of persons with disabilities eligible for benefits.
The biggest failure in Johnson’s policy was the handling of the Vietnam War. As the war expanded, much money was spent to cover it. This reduced the money spent on many social programs he created to free people from poverty. He knew that he could not achieve his liberal Great Society while spending a lot of money on the war. However, he refused to withdraw from the Vietnam War, because he believed he had to show that there was a big power difference between the US and other countries.
The liberal Great Society did not work more than Johnson wanted, but it was true that it had a great impact on people’s lives. By the time he retired, the proportion of people living below the poverty line was cut by almost half.