ABSTRACT

The optimism of the early sixties disappeared, leaving both liberals and conservatives disillusioned, the one because too much had been attempted by government, the other because it had not accomplished more. The cause of the revolution may be charted among the major programs increasing expenditures on social welfare. Social insurance is the federal government's largest category of welfare. This chapter explains how, without apparent coordination, there came about a uniform pattern of rapidly increasing expenditures on welfare. The second largest category of welfare programs is public assistance — direct cash payments to individuals financed by general revenues. The history of the welfare system reveals that the implicit rule for resolving this conflict is to subordinate cost to the goals of broadening coverage and raising benefits. The patterns of change in program characteristics that we describe are partly responsible for the increases in welfare spending.