Economic Opportunity Act 78 Stat. 580 (1964)

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ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY ACT 78 Stat. 580 (1964)

Moving rapidly to consolidate his control over the administration he inherited from john f. kennedy, President lyndon b. johnson in January 1964 declared "war on poverty" and announced his aim of building a "Great Society." The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 was the centerpiece of the Johnson program.

Building on a broad construction of the taxing and spending power, the architects of the act erected a new conception of the role of the federal government. The government was to eliminate the "culture of poverty" that kept some people in economic distress. The act established several new agencies, the most important of which was the Office of Economic Opportunity (later the Community Services Administration) within the Executive Office of the President. It also created a plethora of new programs: Job Corps, Neighborhood Youth Corps, Head Start, etcetera.

From the beginning the war on poverty faced problems, and no poor person ever benefited from it as much as the bureaucrats who ran it. Funds were targeted on the basis less of economic need than of political patronage. And simultaneous expenditure for the war on poverty and the war in Vietnam depleted the treasury and fueled runaway inflation.

Dennis J. Mahoney
(1986)

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Economic Opportunity Act 78 Stat. 580 (1964)

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