When people think of the origins of American social policy, they usually think of the 1935 Social Security Act, part of Franklin D. Roosevelt's second New Deal. That legislation created both old-age insurance, now commonly known as social security, and Aid to Dependent Children (ADC), recently known as welfare. Though central to today's social policy, these programs were somewhat marginal to New Deal social policy because they dealt with special categories of “unemployable” citizens. The key concern of New Deal social policymakers was instead with those deemed “employable,” and their problems were addressed mainly by another and much less studied program from the second New Deal: the “Works Program” operated mainly by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The lack of attention to the WPA has had important consequences for understandings of American social policy.
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