Lyndon Johnson on Budget & Economy



OpEd: Inheritance means kids don't have equal opportunity

The inheritance of wealth, cultural capital, & social contacts has powerful impacts on social, economic, & political structures. Education is rightly seen as among the most important antidotes to the social forces unleashed by starkly unequal patterns of inheritance.

The problem with inheritance challenges our bedrock belief that all children should have an equal opportunity, which means an equal starting point in the race of life, in Lyndon Johnson's famous image. The facts of inheritance, as we know them, mean such an equal starting point does not exist and is not likely to exist in the immediate foreseeable future.

Yet we also very much want to encourage parents to direct their energies to the improvement and their children's lot. We will do damage to valuable social energies if we work too hard to make the effects of inheritance nugatory.

[The value of] inheritance [is] the ambition to pass something on: inspiring parents to do the most they can for their children's education.

Source: Education and Equality, by Danielle Allen, p.116 , Feb 9, 2018

1964 stimulus: Lower taxes with high expenditures

The details of the Budget Message were being hammered out against one persistent presidential question: Can't the item be reduced?

One department head, his funds sharply reduced, growled to [Johnson's budget director], "If you had named the Apostles, there would have been 10 instead of 12." The Budget Director smiled, "Yes, and Mr. Johnson would have reduced the figure to 8."

At the same time, the President was busy using the cuts to help prod passage of the tax-reduction bill, one of the big four of JFK legislation. The Senate Finance Committee chairman [opposed it since] no new-fangled economics could convince him that taxes should be lowered when expenditures were mounting.

The committee chairman spoke forcefully about his opposition to tax reduction while the federal deficit was so high, but also looked at the substantial cuts in the budget with a broad smile.

Source: Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson, by Eric F. Goldman, p. 47-48 , Mar 1, 1974

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Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022