Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011

LBJ Delivers "War on Poverty" State of the Union

President Lyndon B. Johnson's 1964 State of the Union address was historic for many reasons. It was the first after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy weeks before, and the first to include the phrase "war on poverty," which became one of LBJ's focal points as part of his Great Society policy. (A year later LBJ would deliver another first: the first evening State of the Union.) "This Administration today here and now declares unconditional war on poverty in America," Johnson said in the now famous line. A number of programs to help the poor, including Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and Head Start, passed Congress during Johnson's watch. While experts still debate whether LBJ won or lost the war, poverty did fall from about 20% before Johnson's speech to 11% in 1973.