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The Failed Welfare Revolution: America's Struggle over Guaranteed Income Policy

Steensland, Brian

3 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 069117797X / ISBN 13: 9780691177977
Published by Princeton University Press
New Condition: New Soft cover
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Num Pages: 320 pages. BIC Classification: JKS. Category: (P) Professional & Vocational; (U) Tertiary Education (US: College). Dimension: 229 x 152. . . 2017. Reprint. Paperback. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780691177977

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Failed Welfare Revolution: America's ...

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Binding: Soft cover

Book Condition: New

About this title


Today the United States has one of the highest poverty rates among the world's rich industrial democracies. The Failed Welfare Revolution shows us that things might have turned out differently. During the 1960s and 1970s, policymakers in three presidential administrations tried to replace the nation's existing welfare system with a revolutionary program to guarantee Americans basic economic security. Surprisingly from today's vantage point, guaranteed income plans received broad bipartisan support in the 1960s. One proposal, President Nixon's Family Assistance Plan, nearly passed into law in the 1970s, and President Carter advanced a similar bill a few years later. The failure of these proposals marked the federal government's last direct effort to alleviate poverty among the least advantaged and, ironically, sowed the seeds of conservative welfare reform strategies under President Reagan and beyond.

This episode has largely vanished from America's collective memory. Here, Brian Steensland tells the whole story for the first time--from why such an unlikely policy idea first developed to the factors that sealed its fate. His account, based on extensive original research in presidential archives, draws on mainstream social science perspectives that emphasize the influence of powerful stakeholder groups and policymaking institutions. But Steensland also shows that some of the most potent obstacles to guaranteed income plans were cultural. Most centrally, by challenging Americans' longstanding distinction between the "deserving" and "undeserving" poor, the plans threatened the nation's cultural, political, and economic status quo.

From the Back Cover:

"In this important work, Brian Steensland authoritatively reconstructs the history of guaranteed income proposals and highlights Richard Nixon's ironic role in the evolution of American social policy. This story, of possibilities foreclosed and opportunities missed, adds significantly to our knowledge of the American welfare state. An impressive achievement."--Robert C. Lieberman, Columbia University

"Brian Steensland's impressive book, The Failed Welfare Revolution--Nixon's proposed Family Assistance Plan--brings sophisticated cultural analysis and in-depth historical research to bear on an unjustly neglected episode in the development of U.S. social policy, helping us to better understand our current policy options while enriching our theoretical armory."--Ann Orloff, Northwestern University

"This is one of the most important books yet on the American welfare state. Thoroughly researched, clearly argued, and tightly focused, it is by far the most definitive account of a largely forgotten episode that, had it turned out differently, could have changed the subsequent history of U.S. domestic policy."--Michael B. Katz, University of Pennsylvania

"Painstakingly researched and well written, fast-paced and with a strong narrative style, The Failed Welfare Revolution takes a refreshingly cultural view of the rise and fall of guaranteed family income. It takes, at the same time, a refreshingly undeterministic view of history. With passage of a guaranteed family income law, working families might have had a much more reliable safety net."--Frank Dobbin, Harvard University

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