Readers will be surprised at many of the findings and arguments of this volume. Skocpol dispels the myth that Americans are inherently hostile to governmental social spending. When universal social programs jointly benefit the middle class and the poor, she shows, Americans since the nineteenth century have been willing to pay taxes for them and happy to partake of the security they provide. Insights from the past also illuminate why ideological attacks against "bureaucratic meddling" by the federal government repeatedly prove so potent in U.S. politics. Skocpol suggests why President Clinton's proposals for comprehensive health care reforms were so quickly attacked, even though Americans agree that the health financing system is in crisis and support universal insurance coverage. Reforming health care, revamping the welfare system, preserving or cutting Social Security, creating employment programs for displaced employees, and revising U.S. social programs to help working parents with children - all of these endeavors and more are part of ongoing national debates about the future of social policy in the United States. In this wide-ranging collection of essays, renowned social scientist Theda Skocpol shows how historical understanding, centered on U.S. governmental institutions and shifting political alliances, can illuminate the limits and possibilities of American social policymaking both past and present.