New Deal to New Frontier: From security to opportunity in the American welfare state
This paper considers U.S. social policy in the years 1935-1960 through the prism of recurring disagreements over the appropriate balance between social security and individual freedom. The disagreements were sharpest in the 1930s, when the Social Security bill was drafted and revised, and resumed in intensity after World War II, with the introduction of President Truman's health insurance proposal. The disagreements diminished during the 1950s, as Republicans came to accept Social Security. When John Kennedy became president, during the first crisis in public confidence over the Aid to Dependent Children title of the Social Security Act, discussions about balancing security and freedom had lost currency. The paper argues that this loss of currency was unfortunate. The Roosevelt administration's approach to balancing goals of social security and individual freedom was a reasonable gamble, even when applied to single women and their children, and might have served Kennedy and subsequent presidents well.
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