War on Poverty

The War on Poverty is the name for legislation first introduced by United States President Lyndon B. Johnson during his State of the Union address on January 8, 1964. This legislation was proposed by Johnson in response to a national poverty rate of around nineteen percent. The speech led the United States Congress to pass the Economic Opportunity Act, which established the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) to administer the local application of federal funds targeted against poverty.

As part of the Great Society, President Johnson’s belief in expanding the government’s role in social welfare programs from education to healthcare was a continuation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, which ran from 1933 to 1935, and the Four Freedoms of 1941. For various ideological and political reasons, the concept of a war on poverty waned after the 1960s. Nonetheless, its legacy remains in the continued existence of such federal programs as Head Start and Job Corps.

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