Lyndon B. Johnson's Presidency

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What did the Great Society programs reveal about the changing role of the federal government?

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President Johnson’s Great Society program reflected the change in how people viewed the government’s role in our society. Beginning with the Great Depression, people began to expect the federal government to help people during difficult times. There were many programs that were part of the Great Society that reflected this belief.

Two programs dealt with health insurance. Both Medicare and Medicaid provide health insurance. Medicare provides health care for the elderly, while Medicaid provides health care for the poor. These programs act as a safety net for people who are in need.

President Johnson wanted to provide educational opportunities to help people increase their chances for success. The Head Start program allowed disadvantaged kids a chance to start school early. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act provided federal money for our nation’s public schools. This money was used to buy textbooks and library materials. It also helped fund special education programs.

President Johnson also wanted to help people get jobs. The Economic Opportunity Act created programs that helped people get jobs. The Neighborhood Youth Corps provided work-study opportunities for young, underprivileged people so they could a high school diploma and/or a college degree. The Job Corps was created to help unemployed people get work. The VISTA program was created to help people in underdeveloped regions of the United States. Volunteers would work to help people get better educational opportunities.

There were several civil rights laws that were also passed. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 made poll taxes and literacy tests illegal. These had been used to deny African Americans the right to vote. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned segregation in public places.

President Johnson’s Great Society program reflected the belief that the federal government should help those in need.

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