The Johnson Budget and Vietnam

The Johnson Budget and Vietnam

In his 1966 State of the Union message, Lyndon B. Johnson said that if the war in Vietnam were to go on, it should not be financed at the expense of the worst-off in the society but rather by the best-off. In his various domestic policy statements early in January, 1967, the President took back that Populist outburst.

It is not, of course, that Mr. Johnson is leading some diabolical, malevolent attack on the poor. It’s just that he is committed to spending almost x¢22 billion on a tragic commitment to a war on the Asian mainland and that. although it would be easy enough to honor last year’s pledge in terms of economics, his consensus politics will not permit him to take the necessary steps. All those corporate chieftains, whom he has so assiduously wooed, would not be amused by equality of sacrifice or, God forbid, by meeting the Vietnam emergency by just a bit of income redistribution. They have predictably responded to the present situation by demanding cuts in programs for the desperate (“ruffles” some of the Republicans call them) and Mr. Johnson has proved his soundness by adopting the line he attacked so well a year ago. Guns win, butter loses.

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Lima