The Declaration of Independence was created in 1776 with three basic principles in mind. The pursuits of life, liberty, and happiness were the paramount issues focused on by the framers. The 18th Century was a different time. Back then, every man worked on his own farm. He was expected to provide for himself and his family. It was unheard of for anyone to receive assistance from the government. As the country progressed and evolved, the rich got richer and the poor poorer. The Gilded Age of the late 19th Century truly showed the disparity in wealth in America with billionaire business barons employing penniless workers in deplorable conditions. Progressive reforms came along, pioneered by Teddy Roosevelt and his Bull-Moose Party, restricting rampant business corruption and unfair practices. These changes were not enough though, especially with the onset of the Great Depression. Poverty struck the entire country. Unemployment ravaged blue and white-collar workers alike. The entire country was plunged into despair.
Franklin Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States, pulled America out of its slump and restored its citizens to global prestige. His revolutionary social welfare programs were the first of their kind established by our government. This power was given to him in the Constitution, where it specifically states tat the government may “provide for the general welfare of the people”. He also broadened the income tax to all workers in 1943, making all of these government-funded programs possible. His bold plans that worked to pull us out of the greatest worldwide depression ever are the foundation for every welfare program we have today. However, once created these programs are very difficult to eliminate.
Lyndon Johnson was the next president to make significant advances in social welfare. He launched his War on Poverty, aimed at turning America into a Great Society, one without homeless on the streets or hungry children. In order to accomplish these goals he established liberalized requirements for government money. Over the next thirty years, Johnson’s dreams of a society without poverty were not realized. Time showed his programs did more harm than good, raising the nation debt to staggering proportions. In 1996, Bill Clinton signed a Welfare Reform bill as passed to by a Republican Congress. Reform in 1996 meant cutbacks in aid to the people that Johnson included in his programs, specifically in AFDC, and those who received subsidies from the government.
Today, many Americans still rely on government subsidies to provide money for survival necessities. Despite the reduction in many programs, Social Security, unemployment, and other federal programs still provide money to millions of Americans. One of the greatest arguments in every political race is the fight to keep or modify existing legislation that allows these programs to continue. In the 2000 presidential race, these programs were on the forefront of the political...