The Great Society. Johnson was able to persuade Congress to enact a wide range of programs following Kennedy's assassination. Having grown up poor, the president knew first hand what poverty meant, and he declared a war on poverty early in 1964 through the Economic Opportunity Act. The act provided funds for the Job Corps, which secured employment for inner city youths; established the Head Start program, to give disadvantaged preschoolers an early opportunity in education; and set up a domestic version of the Peace Corps known as VISTA, or Volunteers in Service to America. Following his landslide victory over Republican conservative Barry Goldwater in the 1964 election, Johnson used his popular mandate to expand the Great Society. In 1965, after almost 20 years of inaction on the issue, Congress finally passed Medicare, which provided Americans over the age of 65 with medical insurance, and Medicaid, which
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