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The University of Texas at Austin

Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs



LBJ Centennial Symposium Conference Papers

Conference Paper
Hispanics, Health Insurance, and the Pact between the Generations
Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Symposium - March 11, 2009

Professor of Public Affairs
and Sociology

The United States faces major challenges in financing the retirement and health care needs of future generations. Although addressing such problems will be painful in the short-term, the crisis is historically unique and limited. As the baby boomers pass from the scene, so will the crisis. But, perhaps a far more serious potential problem arises from the ethnic and racial overlay to the age-grading of our society. Today’s Hispanics, for example, will be tomorrow’s majority in many states, and they will make up a major part of the U.S. labor force. This fact raises many issues of critical importance to health policy makers, providing the primary focus of the paper for the LBJ Centennial Celebration. The proposed research explores how labor force vulnerabilities affect the overall well-being of the Hispanic population with a specific focus on health insurance. The uninsured rates for Hispanics were the highest among any American minority group in 2005 (33.7% versus 19.6% for African Americans and 16.9% for Asian Americans, respectively). Most disturbingly, the number of Hispanics who lack coverage is swiftly increasing, climbing from 13.5 million to 14.1 million persons between 2004 and 2005.

Surprisingly, scant research has probed deeply into the ways in which work-related policy mechanisms may explain such vulnerability even though an abundance of studies document the dismal situation of Hispanic’s access to health insurance. The neglect in research along these lines is puzzling because it is well known that the employment based health insurance system of the United States means that those individuals who are disadvantaged in the labor market are also disadvantaged in terms of health insurance coverage. Hispanics, and especially those of Mexican-origin, have historically been disadvantaged in both domains. Throughout the life course Mexican-origin individuals and families have lower rates of health insurance coverage than non-Hispanic white or other minority group members. Many explanations for these low rates of coverage have been offered, including employment in jobs in which coverage is not offered, the high cost of family coverage, bureaucratic barriers to the access of public coverage, language difficulties, and more. The most immediate source of the vulnerability of the Mexican-origin population relates to their location in the labor force.

This study employs data from the 2004 and 2006 Current Population Surveys (CPS) to examine the role of employment in explaining differences in rates of health insurance coverage among employed Mexican-origin, African-American, and non-Hispanic white workers. The ultimate objective in this analysis is to determine the extent to which low rates of health insurance coverage among Mexican-origin workers 18 to 64 are the result of overrepresentation in occupational sectors in which coverage is low for everyone. If the differential observed in the aggregate disappears or is at least the same magnitude, among individuals in particular occupations, a distributional effect exists− penalized equally. On the other hand, if the differential persists then some other factors may be accounting for the difference.

We expect the results to make clear whether the health insurance vulnerability of the Mexican-origin population reflects multiple barriers to coverage in addition to those related to occupational concentration. The paper ends with a “Call for Action” to consider the increasing significance of Hispanic ethnicity in the nation’s social policy agenda. The failure to do so runs the risk of introducing a dimension of racial and ethnic strife into what could be serious age-based conflicts since the Great Society era.

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Conference Paper
LBJ, Science and Technology Policy and Lessons for the Future
Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Symposium - March 11, 2009

Senior Lecturer in
Public Affairs
Coordinator,
21st Century Project

President Lyndon Baines Johnson is not commonly remembered for his contributions to United States science and technology policy. But LBJ’s political career coincided with, and helped shape, the most productive era of science and technology in history. This period has become known as the “golden age” of science policy, when prominent scientists and engineers were highly regarded by the public, supported by the government, and working in policy positions of influence and prestige. Not only did LBJ preside over the development of U.S. space exploration, his administration launched the first environmental science programs, began the research that led to the Internet, and built a system of government cooperation and funding for research institutions that became the envy of the world. American scientists and engineers repaid LBJ by helping him defeat Barry Goldwater in 1964.

But cracks in the consensus about the prominent role of American science were already beginning to appear mid-way through LBJ’s full term as President, largely because of the war in Vietnam. There was also friction between the populist President and the intellectuals of Ivy League universities who dominated science policy. Those troubles would explode after LBJ left the White House, and, even today, U.S.
science and technology policy has never fully recovered its “golden age.” During the recent Bush administration, relations between the White House and the science community have reached a nadir. There are lessons in this story for the new President, as well as for the scientific and technical communities.

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Conference Paper
Johnson Administration Water Quality Policies: Past and Future
Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Symposium - March 11, 2009

Bess Harris Centennial
Professor in Natural
Resource Policy Studies

Prior to the administration of President Lyndon Johnson (Johnson Administration) the United States (US) Congress and the federal government had not resolved whether water pollution represented a local or regional problem, which cities or states should regulate, or whether the federal government should pre-empt and lead pollution control initiatives. During the Johnson Administration, Congress and the White House cooperated on a series of legislative and appropriation initiatives that established the legitimacy of the federal government leading and partnering to inform and support state and local water quality management. Lyndon Johnson’s administration transformed the process of managing water quality within the US. These changes occurred with respect to environmental quality standards, research, information, administrative support, construction investment, legal and regulatory support, as well as professional leadership. The Johnson Administration created the first modern national program for assurance of water quality. The relationships forged by the Johnson Administration among the federal agencies, states and local governments, and citizens have remained stable over the intervening four decades. This paper argues that the future is likely to be more like the past; although the ‘public perception’ of water quality may change, the institutional and financial architecture developed by the Johnson Administration to protect and enhance water quality will continue following the Johnson Administration’s principles.

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Conference Paper
Constructing Effectiveness: The Emergence of the Evaluation Research Industry
Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Symposium - March 11, 2009

Professor of Public Affairs
Director, RGK Center
for Philanthropy and
Community Service

Today, evaluation research is a multi-billion dollar industry focused on answering some variation on the seemingly simple the question: “Did the program work?” Over the past four decades, this enormously complex question has led to the creation of a limited set of large and successful firms – and a massive array of smaller and specialized firms -- that collectively employ a large number of trained experts who spend entire careers searching for evidence of impact and effectiveness. In this chapter, we sketch a brief interpretive history of the evaluation industry, tracking the emergence and expansion of the largest and most visible organizational manifestations of the drive to track effectiveness. Our intent is not to create a comprehensive historical narrative the encompasses all the many actors in this long and intricate story line, but rather to pull out selected moments in the emergence of an increasingly unified and organizational field.

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Conference Paper
The Johnson Legacy and the Obama Challenge
The Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Symposium - March 11, 2009

Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr
Chair in Government/Business
Relations and Professor
of Government

The present financial crisis poses challenges and opportunities for the incoming administration of a type not seen since the 1930s. We are witnessing a comprehensive crisis of the financial system, combined with instabilities emanating from a substantially unregulated global monetary and credit system. Many of the specific difficulties are familiar from that earlier era: the collapse of credit and homebuilding, the decline of the stock market, industrial and commercial bankruptcies, crisis in state and local finance, a squeeze on the retirement incomes of the elderly, foreign debt defaults. Others are novel: in particular the complex world of derivatives and credit default swaps which have the potential to transmit the crisis from virtually any point on the globe to any other.
The advantage held by the United States in this situation consists in the institutions created under the New Deal and the Great Society, which provide a comprehensive framework for public action. These include deposit insurance, the exchange stabilization fund, the Federal Reserve Act as amended in 1934 and 1978, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Social Security, the National Labor Relations Act and the minimum wage, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as such temporary programs as the Home Owners Loan Corporation, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, Revenue Sharing and the Resolution Trust Corporation. Lyndon Johnson’s legacy stands as a link in this great chain of action and problem-solving; Barack Obama’s will be defined by how his administration rises to the particular conditions of the current crisis.

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Conference Paper
Urban Policy in the 21st Century: Legacies of the Johnson Administration
Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Symposium - March 11, 2009

Associate Dean for
Academic Affairs,
Mike Hogg Professor
in Urban Policy

Co-authored by Norman J. Glickman , Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University

Lyndon Johnson brought a dedication to eradicating poverty, particularly urban poverty, to his presidency. He passed a breathtaking array of programs to reduce poverty and hunger, build better housing, improve education and urban infrastructure, and create jobs. Despite the overarching successes of his legislative agenda, Johnson would certainly find that few Great Society initiatives remained for long. In examining the Johnson record and the evolution of urban policy in subsequent administrations, important lessons for urban policymakers can be drawn and we find that federal roles in cities established during the Johnson era continue. He brought a broader and more activist role for the federal government than that of his predecessors and those who followed. He attempted to accomplish his goals by restructuring the federalist system. Johnson also championed the role of community-based organizations and other nonprofit groups in designing and implementing many of his initiatives. We also believe that many of Johnson’s policies, though well intentioned, did not provide solutions to many difficult problems facing cities and the poor. Many of Johnson’s programs were abandoned or slashed by subsequent governments, either on the grounds that they were ineffective or because more conservative presidents opposed the philosophy of activist government central to the Great Society. Despite attempts to tear down the Great Society, Johnson’s legacy—like LBJ himself—looms large. To conclude, we offer President-elect Barack Obama a set of recommendations for addressing the urban challenges that face the nation in the new century.

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Conference Paper
Reform of the Federal Government: Lessons for Change Agents
Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Symposium - March 11, 2009

Sid Richardson
Research Professor

In August 1965, impressed by Robert S. McNamara’s success with program budgeting at the U.S. Department of Defense and encouraged by members of his staff, President Lyndon B. Johnson mandated the adoption of a similar planning and budgeting system in all federal departments and agencies. With the costs of the war in Vietnam and of Great Society programs accelerating, the President’s decision to maintain a firm grip on the federal budget to avoid the need for tax increases was good politics at the time. But LBJ’s support for the Planning-Programming-Budgeting System (PPBS) was genuine, and it quickly took on a life of its own.

The relevance of the McNamara model to domestic government was immediately questioned by members of Congress, social scientists, and others. Moreover, the progress of PPBS was faltering owing to a what appears in retrospect to have been a flawed implementation strategy. In 1970, the Nixon administration quietly killed it. President Johnson never wavered in his advocacy for strengthening the institutions of executive government and increasing the supply of public servants trained in modern analytic methods and management tools. As a result, his support for PPBS has had three positive legacies: establishing policy analysis as an important function of policy making; the institutionalization of graduation education in public policy in some of the nation’s leading universities; and providing significant impetus to the growth of social research and development in American universities, think tanks, and consultancies. In addition, the faulty implementation of PPBS by the Johnson administration provides a wealth of lessons for those in the Obama administration who aspire to bring about improvement in federal executive institutions.

Click here to download a PDF of the full paper.

Conference Paper
LBJ's Legacy in Contemporary Social Welfare Policy: Have We Come Full Circle?
The Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Symposium - March 11, 2009

Assistant Professor
of Public Affairs

 

Co-authored by Cynthia Osborne, Assistant Professor of Public Affairs

This paper reflects on today’s social welfare policies and the extent to which they are influenced by LBJ’s vision of a Great Society that helps “more Americans, especially young Americans, escape from squalor and misery, and unemployment rolls where other citizens help to carry them.” (LBJ, First State of the Union Address, January 1964). LBJ’s original vision for a War on Poverty is arguably quite different than the War that was eventually fought (and some would argue lost). However, it is his vision of what could have been, indeed what should have been, that is his legacy.

We contend that today’s policy priorities are heavily influenced by the initial priorities of the War on Poverty, although this has not always been the case. U. S. social policy has come full circle in many respects. Today’s policies emphasize job creation, work supports, and human capital development, all original tenets of the War on Poverty. In the interim, social welfare policy focused almost exclusively on cash assistance, or “welfare”, which was not a centerpiece of LBJ’s vision. Significant changes in the social, political, economic, and demographic climate over the past 50 years pose new challenges for today and call for a renewed strategy to fight poverty and disadvantage.

 Click here to download a PDF of the full paper.

Conference Paper
LBJ’s Legacy in Contemporary Social Welfare Policy: Have We Come Full Circle?
Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Symposium - March 11, 2009

Cynthia Osborne
Assistant Professor of
Public Affairs

Co-authored by Jane Lincove, Assistant Professor of Public Affairs

This paper reflects on today’s social welfare policies and the extent to which they are influenced by LBJ’s vision of a Great Society that helps “more Americans, especially young Americans, escape from squalor and misery, and unemployment rolls where other citizens help to carry them.” (LBJ, First State of the Union Address, January 1964). LBJ’s original vision for a War on Poverty is arguably quite different than the War that was eventually fought (and some would argue lost). However, it is his vision of what could have been, indeed what should have been, that is his legacy.

We contend that today’s policy priorities are heavily influenced by the initial priorities of the War on Poverty, although this has not always been the case. U. S. social policy has come full circle in many respects. Today’s policies emphasize job creation, work supports, and human capital development, all original tenets of the War on Poverty. In the interim, social welfare policy focused almost exclusively on cash assistance, or “welfare”, which was not a centerpiece of LBJ’s vision. Significant changes in the social, political, economic, and demographic climate over the past 50 years pose new challenges for today and call for a renewed strategy to fight poverty and disadvantage.

Click here to download a PDF of the full paper.

Conference Paper
Hispanics, Immigration and Housing the Poor in Texas Under the Great Society: Then and Now
Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Symposium - March 11, 2009

C.B. Smith Sr. Centennial
Chair in US-Mexico Relations
and Professor of Public Affairs

This paper examines Johnson’s background and relationships with Mexicans in South Texas during his early years, as well as his interactions with Mexican-American organizations while he was in Congress.  How those relations translated into some of his major actions as President (Civil Rights, Voter Registration, and the Housing Act)  are evaluated insofar as they came to shape the environment for housing and urban development from the 1970s onwards.  Immigration and population growth of Hispanics led to dramatic growth and to their emergence as the first minority today (45 million), both nationally and in Texas. The paper focuses upon how immigrants and low income Hispanics (principally) search for housing in the informal sector and argues that such informality of housing production in colonias and informal homestead subdivisions represents a viable and rationale response to structural poverty and inadequate public and private housing policies.  The essay concludes by reflecting upon whether President Johnson would have viewed informality as indicative of policy failure, or pragmatically as a creative bootstraps response whereby low income Hispanics and others have a shot at breaking into the “American Dream”.

 

Click here for a full PDF of the paper.

Conference Paper
The Evolution of Medicare and Medicaid and the Challenges Ahead
Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Symposium - March 11, 2009

Professor of Public Affairs
and Wilbur C. Cohen
Professor in Health
and Social Policy

Medicaid and Medicare were one of the major accomplishments of the Great Society. They provided coverage to most of the 46% of the over 65 population who had no health insurance in 1965 and to at least many of the indigent disabled. President Johnson provided “unqualified and intelligent support” according to one of the sponsors and the three layer cake Medicare parts A and B and Medicaid, a matching program for qualifying state programs passed. In order to achieve passage a number of commitments regarding physician autonomy and payment of physicians and hospitals were made. These and President Johnson’s insistence on the applicability of the Civil Rights Act meant that more than 90% of the eligible elderly were enrolled in the first year and had access to services.

By 1972 Medicare had been extended to disabled Social Security beneficiaries and SSI was federalized. Through the 1980s and 1990s while Medicare payment methods exhibited some changes Medicaid was growing very rapidly and being extended to cover a number of social services and also to compensate hospitals for indigent persons as well as for beneficiaries. The growth in cost of the two programs has been rapid and is generally thought to be unsustainable. Most projections of cost assume that medical inflation will continue to exceed general inflation. In fact if the US spent 12% of GDP on medical care rather than nearly 17% [Europe generally spends less than 12%] medical care would cost more than $500 billion less. The run of 42 years of Medicare and Medicaid under these arrangements has exacerbated these cost problems and also created a number of winners.

Some initiatives that hold promise include motivating a medical home for patients, restricting payment to effective regimens and pharmaceuticals, and reducing the incentives for unnecessary procedures and many redundant facilities. It would appear that President Obama is most likely to achieve major change if he pushes immediately for broad coverage as he has proposed in the campaign. After that is accomplished he would be well served to take John McCain’s advice and appoint a bipartisan Blue Ribbon Commission to work out how to make Medicare work for the 21st Century and to make other recommendations regarding cost as well. After these two initiatives are completed it would be time enough to convene a Commission composed of Governors, Members of Congress, and other interested parties to tackle the residual issues related to Medicaid.

Click here to download a PDF of the full paper.