Great Society Programs, 1964–1967
LBJ and Congress changed Social Security by establishing
Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare provided hospital insurance and low-cost
medical insurance for almost every American age 65 or older. Medicaid extend-
ed health insurance to welfare recipients.
Congress also made several important decisions that shifted the
nation’s political power from rural to urban areas. These decisions included:
appropriating money to build some 240,000 units of low-rent public housing and
helping low- and moderate-income families pay for better private housing; estab-
lishing the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); and appoint-
ing Robert Weaver, the ﬁrst African-American cabinet member in American his-
tory, as Secretary of HUD.
1964 Tax Reduction Act cut corporate and
individual taxes to stimulate growth.
1964 Economic Opportunity Act created Job
Corps, VISTA, Project Head Start, and other
programs to ﬁght the “war on poverty.”
1965 Medicare Act established Medicare and
1965 Appalachian Regional Development Act
targeted aid for highways, health centers,
and resource development in that
economically depressed area.
1965 Omnibus Housing Act provided money
for low-income housing.
1965 Department of Housing and Urban
Development was formed to administer
federal housing programs.
1966 Demonstration Cities and Metropolitan
Area Redevelopment Act funded slum
rebuilding, mass transit, and other
improvements for selected “model cities.”
1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act
directed money to schools for textbooks,
library materials, and special education.
1965 Higher Education Act funded scholarships
and low-interest loans for college students.
1965 National Foundation on the Arts and the
Humanities was created to ﬁnancially assist
painters, musicians, actors, and other artists.
1967 Corporation for Public Broadcasting was
formed to fund educational TV and radio
1965 Wilderness Preservation Act set aside over
9 million acres for national forest lands.
1965 Water Quality Act required states to clean
up their rivers.
1965 Clean Air Act Amendment directed the
federal government to establish emission
standards for new motor vehicles.
1967 Air Quality Act set federal air pollution guide-
lines and extended federal enforcement power.
1964 Civil Rights Act outlawed discrimination in
public accommodations, housing, and jobs;
increased federal power to prosecute civil
1964 Twenty-Fourth Amendment abolished the
poll tax in federal elections.
1965 Voting Rights Act ended the practice of
requiring voters to pass literacy tests and
permitted the federal government to monitor
1965 Immigration Act ended national-origins
quotas established in 1924.
1966 Truth in Packaging Act set standards for
labeling consumer products.
1966 National Trafﬁc and Motor Vehicle Safety
Act set federal safety standards for the
auto and tire industries.
1966 Highway Safety Act required states to set
up highway safety programs.
1966 Department of Transportation was created
to deal with national air, rail, and highway
What did the Great Society programs indicate about the federal government’s changing role?
for the federal