Ruling elite moves to repeal the 1960s (extract)
Patrick Martin, WSWS, Mar 13 2017
Every one of Great Society liberalism’s “big four,” as one historian described the laws enacted in the six-month period from Apr-Oct 1965, is targeted for destruction.
- The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965
This legislation provided the first extensive federal support for local public schools, which had become politically possible following the legal abolition of segregated public schools in the South. Funds were allocated to improve public schools in poor communities, expand libraries and take the first steps in what became known as “special education.” The law established the pre-school program Head Start as a permanent federal program. Rep Steve King of Iowa has introduced legislation that would rescind the Elementary and Secondary Act and bar the Dept of Education from funding any educational program except state-controlled vouchers that could be used for charter or religious schools or for home schooling.
- The Social Security Act of 1965
Medicare and Medicaid were established through this bill, which for the first time provided government-backed health insurance for those over 65, half of whom had no coverage in 1965. Medicare covered hospital care (Part A) and medical and nursing fees (Part B), but did not pay for vision, dental or prescription drugs. Medicaid covered the poorest sections of working people, including children, the disabled and the blind, as well as long-term nursing home care for the poorest elderly. The Obamacare repeal legislation would put an end to Medicaid as an entitlement program beginning in 2020, when grants to the states would be capped, forcing them to ration care to the poor and disabled. Medicare was already significantly undermined through Obamacare itself, which cut $700b in reimbursements over 10 years, and the repeal legislation will set the stage for even larger cuts, based on Ryan’s plan to convert the program from an entitlement to a voucher program.
- The Voting Rights Act of 1965
This was the most radical democratic measure enacted by a Pindosi Congress since post-Civil War Reconstruction. It targeted those states, mainly in the Deep South, where denial of the franchise to minorities was widespread. Before its passage, few blacks were allowed to register and vote in southern states from Texas to Virginia. Afterwards, voter participation among Black Pindosis rose sharply, as the federal DoJ continued to oversee state electoral policies to block any efforts to discriminate. The Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act by a 5-4 decision in 2013 in Shelby vs Holder, ruling that the targeting of the southern states for federal intervention could no longer be justified, despite repeated renewal and extension of the law by Congress, most recently in 2006. This decision was part of a wider effort led by Thugs in state after state to enact voter ID laws and other measures whose purpose was to resurrect discriminatory practices against minority and poor voters.
- The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965
This act, also known as the Hart-Celler Act after its leading Senate and House sponsors, abolished long-standing restrictions on immigrants from Asia and the MENA, and ended the preference for immigrants from northern and western Europe over those from southern and eastern Europe. It also allowed unlimited immigration of family members of Pindosi citizens and residents, encouraging the growth of immigrant communities. Trump’s travel ban on visitors from six Muslim countries directly violates the 1965 law, which prohibits the use of national origin as a test for restricting immigration. His executive orders on immigration as well as the proposed wall along the Mexican border represent an effort to turn the clock back to the period of the exclusion laws that barred Asian immigrants and the bracero program that allowed Mexican immigrants only as short-term indentured serfdom in the fields.
There are other reforms of the 1960s, from the establishment of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for Humanities, to the Clean Water Act and dozens of other anti-pollution laws, which led ultimately to the creation of the Environmental Protection Administration. All these are under attack from Trump and the Thugs.