From the 1930s and you could even staring in the Progressive Era, twenty-years earlier, America was living in an era of progressivism. Of high tax rates, at least compared to where our tax rates had traditionally been. Before the Kennedy/Johnson tax cuts of 1963-64, our tax rates ranged from 25-90%. President Johnson and Congress brought the top Tax Rate down to 70% and the bottom tax rate to 20%. Our tax rates look like Sweden's or Britain's, but our government was spending about half of what they were. We created a safety net and brought economic progressivism into law in the 1930s and expanded it in the 1960s. But by the late 1970s and perhaps even before that, America was moving to the right. Something President Carter recognized and why he didn't try to expand the safety net in America. Which gave him problem with Progressive Democrats in Congress. And high tax rates and big government progressivism was becoming unpopular in America. Just like big government neoconservatism is unpopular in the country now.
This is what Libertarian Professor Milton Friedman was talking about in 1978. Arguing that our Federal Government was becoming too big. And when this happens, we end up giving up too much power to the Federal Government for them to take care of us and we lose the freedom to take care of ourselves and run our own lives. Professor Friedman was against all forms of a public safety net. Most Americans aren't. Social Security and Medicare are still very popular in America. But losing popularity amongst younger Americans. But what the country likes is the freedom to make these decisions on our own. Plan for our own retirements and health care and then have a safety net for people who fall through the cracks of the economy. Which is different from socialism, where you would have a welfare state to take care of the people. Or Libertarianism where there wouldn't be any public safety net. And we are all at the mercy of private charity, if we can't take care of ourselves.
Professor Friedman was speaking about this growing concern that the Federal Government was too big. And taxed too much, something he had been arguing his entire career. Its just by 1978 he was no longer in the minority on that. And he was speaking to more people who wanted to hear him and agreed with him. America gets President Jimmy Carter in 1977, but he was a Southern New Democrat. Who believed government could be used to help people in need help them self. But not there to manage to try to manage people's lives for them from cradle to grave. He was one of the first believers and supporters of Welfare to Work, that became welfare reform in 1996. He also had a lot of political luck in 1976 being a Georgia outsider who became prevalent just after Watergate with Richard Nixon and with President Gerald Ford pardoning him. But America was moving to the right on economic policy and not wanting an expansion of the New Deal and Great Society and new taxes on the middle class to finance it. And Professor Friedman, was speaking to those feelings.