What is the proper role of the federal government in domestic affairs?

Many people believe that one of the federal government’s most important functions is to safeguard the well-being of the nation’s most vulnerable members. Two large-scale initiatives dedicated to that purpose were the New Deal and the Great Society.

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Among the numerous functions of the US federal government, one of the most important is looking out for the most vulnerable members of society. Especially during times of economic crisis, the various components of the federal government have been called upon to pull together in a concerted effort to help...

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Among the numerous functions of the US federal government, one of the most important is looking out for the most vulnerable members of society. Especially during times of economic crisis, the various components of the federal government have been called upon to pull together in a concerted effort to help those who are most seriously affected.

In addition, the federal government can enact large-scale programs that go beyond the abilities of individual states and sometimes offset negative factors occurring in those states. Along with adults experiencing financial stress, such as those who are unemployed or underemployed, vulnerable sectors include children, the elderly, and members of historically disadvantaged populations. Two large-scale or umbrella initiatives that have deliberately addressed such issues were the New Deal of the 1930s and the Great Society of the 1960s.

Under President Franklin Roosevelt, the New Deal or National Recovery included the expansion of the federal government through a wide variety of programs in numerous agencies. Perhaps its most enduring legacy is the establishment of Social Security. Other notable components were the Public Works Administration, Works Project Administration, and Civilian Conservation Corps.

While Americans in all walks of life benefitted from some aspects of these programs, Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society initiative of the 1960s paid more attention to creating and protecting opportunities for people of diverse racial, ethnic, and class backgrounds. Often referred to as the War on Poverty, these programs were through the 1964 Economic Recovery Act. A focus on health and long-term well-being was shown through the establishment of federally funded health care for the elderly and the poor under Medicare and Medicaid respectively. Education for low-income and disadvantaged children, along with the accelerated implementation of desegregation, was advanced through the 1965 Higher Education Act.

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