Economics, Bureaucracy, and Race

How Keynesians Misguided the War on Poverty

Judith Russell

Columbia University Press

Economics, Bureaucracy, and Race

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Pub Date: December 2003

ISBN: 9780231112536

304 Pages

Format: Paperback

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Pub Date: December 2003

ISBN: 9780231112529

304 Pages

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List Price: $105.00£81.00

Pub Date: December 2003

ISBN: 9780231507448

304 Pages

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Economics, Bureaucracy, and Race

How Keynesians Misguided the War on Poverty

Judith Russell

Columbia University Press

In this hard-hitting analysis of the war on poverty, Judith Russell charges that since FDR's New Deal, the U.S. government has introduced many public policies attempting to address poverty, yet it has failed to produce coherent programs to combat it. Focusing on the genesis of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, the core of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson's antipoverty crusade, Russell asserts that the war on poverty could have been an inclusive policy of government-sponsored jobs programs, but it failed to confront the deep-rooted problems endemic to American poverty.

While the macroeconomic strategies devised by the Keynesian Council of Economic Advisors in 1963 and 1964 eventually rejected proposed jobs programs to combat unemployment, Russell argues that this was the wrong strategy for fighting the structural unemployment at the center of hard-core poverty. At the same time, liberal policymakers ignored direct calls for jobs programs emanating from black Americans who were disproportionately affected by structural unemployment. Without these programs at the center of the war on poverty, it was doomed to fail. Drawing on a plethora of archival sources, including the Kennedy and Johnson Presidential Libraries, and interviews and a ten-year correspondence with former Secretary of Labor W. Willard Wirtz, this forceful examination brings a fresh perspective to a key era in American economic policymaking and to contemporary policy debates.
Russell's trenchant analysis is a refreshing antidote to the easy armchair analyses of nay sayers. L. Randall Wray, Journal of Economic Issues
Russell's analysis is a compelling one... she throws a penetrating light on a moment in the post-war history of the United States when... There was a real failure to try the possibilities of things. Labor History
Introduction: The Other War on Poverty--the Battle for Jobs
Economic Ideas and the War on Poverty
Change and Incapacity in the Department of Labor
Social Forces, Civil Rights, and the Struggle for Jobs
Governmental Will: The Limits of Noblesse Oblige
Ideas and Government Policy Making
Appendix: Joblessness, Poverty, and Public Policy in the United States

About the Author

Judith Russell received her Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University. Until 1999 she was assistant professor of political science at Barnard College. After serving as vice president for research and policy at the New York City Partnership, she has returned to teaching political science at Columbia University.