The Public Interest

Reform follows reality: the growth of welfare

Gilbert Y. Steiner

Winter 1974

THE Administration that came to power in 1961 and looked forward to being in power for eight years did not dare nor wish to deal with public assistance as its predecessor had during its last years-by holding on to the status quo and hoping for the best. A policy fashioned in the 1930’s and 1940’s particularly for the aged simply would not self-adjust in the 1960’s to cope with the needs of unmarried and deserted mothers and their children.  The changing shape of the welfare population presaged high costs without political benefits, the worst of all situations. Accordingly, formulating plans to cope with the needs of dependent families constituted a built-in, unavoidable challenge to the new Kennedy Administration just as it would have to a new Nixon Administration then, and as it did to a new Nixon Administration eight years thereafter, and a Johnson Administration in the interim. 

Download a PDF of the full article.



from the


A weekly newsletter with free essays from past issues of National Affairs and The Public Interest that shed light on the week's pressing issues.


to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.