. Setting the Stage: The Failures of Liberal Innovation

Ellen Reese

in Backlash against Welfare Mothers

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2005 | ISBN: 9780520244610
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520938717 | DOI:
. Setting the Stage: The Failures of Liberal Innovation

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This chapter examines the political struggles over welfare, leading to several failed attempts to replace Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with a guaranteed income program in the 1960s and 1970s. Kennedy and Ed Johnson’s antipoverty policies undoubtedly helped the poor, but their impact was limited. The backlash against welfare and civil rights gains reshaped electoral politics. The Richard Nixon administration urged Congress to pass a revised Family Assistance Plan (FAP) bill in order to put “a floor under the income of every family with children in America.” Liberal Democrats’ policy innovations in the 1960s were too little too late. Declining support for New Deal policies, the failure of politicians to create a popular alternative, and the absence of a vibrant welfare rights movement created a political vacuum that was quickly filled by the Republican Right, whose rise to power unleashed even greater attacks on welfare mothers.

Keywords: welfare backlash; Aid to Families with Dependent Children; income program; Kennedy; Ed Johnson; Richard Nixon; Family Assistance Plan; civil rights; Liberal Democrats; policy innovations

Chapter.  9749 words. 

Subjects: Marriage and the Family

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