Seldom had the United States seemed to be more blessed than in early 1965. The country’s economy had been expanding steadily for four years, and unemployment was about 4%. Inflation, a serious problem in the late 1940s and early 1950s, was now negligible. Meanwhile, thanks to President Johnson’s predecessor, John F. Kennedy, the nightmare of nuclear war had retreated during the previous two years. The nation was freer to take care of its own needs, and it was building many thousands of miles of interstate highways and dozens of new schools and colleges to meet the needs of the Baby Boom generation, now between 5 and 22 years old. At the same time, Johnson was determined to push Medicare through Congress, making it possible for seniors to enjoy old age without the threat of illness that might not only take away their own savings, but those of their grown children.
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