Paying the Price for the Great Society

Paying the Price for the Great Society - Paying the Price...

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Paying the Price for the Great Society By the end of Johnson’s term however, inflation had reared its ugly head. And as the 1960s became the 1970s, many policymakers began to question the wisdom of Kennedy’s and Johnson’s assault on poverty. These critics were troubled most by the rising costs of the programs that had been implemented during the optimism-filled 1960s. For example, when created in 1966, Medicare cost $3 billion. Congressional analysts estimated that the annual cost would rise to $12 billion by 1990, but the estimates were not even close. By 1990 Medicare spending had actually reached $112 billion annually. In 2003, costs reached $244 billion ($172 billion in inflation-adjusted 1990 dollars). 29 The cost of Johnson’s Great Society was indeed sobering, but there was no denying its success in reducing poverty and improving public health. By 1970, the share of the population living in poverty had been cut in half. Before 1963, and the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, one in
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