Box 22, Folder 17, Document 17

Dublin Core

Text Item Type Metadata


Weshington, D. C., Saturday, November 19, 1966



Poverty Program to Test Johnson's Intentions:

The available insights
indicate that President John-
son has been .more than
slightly surprised and discom-
fited by the election returns.
Predictions are rife within the
bureaucracy that he will
“hunker up” and play a more
cautious lead for the next two

Johnson has conjectured to
associates that they all may
have erred in bragging exces-
sively about their legislative
triumphs. He talked even
before the election of being

finished with the Great Society
because its legislative founda-
tions had been enacted.

Such hints of an intention to
embark on a new tack of
leadership are bolstered by
polls, which show that a signif-
icant segment of the voters,
about 48 percent in one Repub-
lican survey, would prefer him
to be more conservative. A

much smaller group, 19 per-
cent in the Republican poll,
wants a more liberal Presi-
dent. ‘

One crucial test of the
President’s direction will be

: the anti-poverty program,
-Which is certain to founder in

the next Congress unless he
wraps a strong, protective
arm around it. Johnson ap-
plied the Gavin plan to the
war against poverty at the
same time that he rejected it
for the war in South Viet Nam.
The domestic war has been a
holding operation and ° its
enclaves are on the verge of
being overrun.

The tentative guidelines on
which the Budget Bureau has
shaped its hearings foresha-
dow no significant change in
next year’s poverty package.
The total appropriation will be
approximately the same and

the Office of Economic Oppor- -

tunity will not be stripped of
any of its programs, as the
Republicans proposed last

But this in itself is not
enough to save a program so
close to being destroyed by its
enemies. The poverty warriors
have been left almost defense-
less by the President's failure
to translate the enthusiasm
with which he declared war on
poverty in 1964 into the funds
and support needed to sustain
an offensive.

Johnson did almost nothing
to help Sargent Shriver and

his associates in the past
Congress and he may well
intend to let them be devoured
by the next Congress. The
blood will not be on his hands:
but he will be rid of a Pando-
ra’s box of embarrassments,

The President may have
underestimated the implica-
tions of his promise to stamp
out poverty in 1964. He proba-
bly did not realize that he was
launching a social revolution
that would cause old-line
social workers, bureaucrats,
mayors, governors, senators,
congressmen and the poor
themselves to rise up in noisy,
intermittent indignation. As an
old New Dealer who likes
programs that kindle grati-
tude, Johnson may well be
mystified by a welfare pro-
gram capable of causing so
much dissent.

The troubles. arise because
Shriver and his cohorts have
unflinchingly declared war
against all the forces which
submerge the poor. Convinced
that this was more than a
matter of putting federal
money in poor men’s hands,
they have poked their way
deep into the subterranean
caverns of the social struc-

ture, roused all kinds of bats, |

and raised new questions.
Johnson undoubtedly envi-
sioned something more like
the Labor Department’s
Neighborhood ‘Youth Corps.
which is a simple, almost a
leaf-raking type of program
that funnels more than one-
quarter of a billion dollars inte
kids’ pockets without teaching
them much or raising man

~ cE 7%,

issues. It is a safe, unimagina-
tive welfare program and it is
extremely popular with Con-.

The war on poverty will
settle into this comfortable
pattern if Congress abolishes
the OEO. The bureaucrats
know the New Deal techniques
well and they will back away
from contentions like the
current one that sandwiches
Shriver between the liberals

who advocate sterilization and .

the Catholics who oppose birth,

George Bernard Shaw wrote

that “nothing is ever done in

this world until men are

prepared io kill one another if
it is not done.” The kind of all-
out war that the President
declared and Shriver has
waged may involve too many
basic changes to be accom-
plished in a_ tepid political

But Pandora’s box has been
opened. ‘The rich man thinks
of the future,” according to an
old proverb, “but the poor
man thinks of today.” Johnson
has raised hopes that aré
unlikely to subside because of
a conservative tinge in the

election returns.
© 1965


public items show