The Great Society of that period was the ultimate Keynesian experiment, and it didn't work very well ... The jobs that Keynes emphasized were AWOL: America became accustomed to high levels of unemployment.
Paul Krugman objects:
The Great Society wasn’t deficit spending, it wasn’t intended to create jobs, and the economy of the 1960s wasn’t depressed. It was social engineering; we can talk about how well or badly it worked, but it had nothing whatsoever to do with Keynesian economics. Now, LBJ did engage in some Keynesian economics: namely, he imposed a contractionary fiscal policy in the form of a tax surcharge in an effort to cool an overheating economy.
Paul is basically correct but let’s go further. The big Keynesian fiscal experiment was that 1964 tax cut, which did seem to work fairly well as the economy returned to full employment by late 1965. While Paul and I were both too young in 1965 to have been included in the discussions between the Council of Economic Advisors and President Johnson, I have had the pleasure of hearing from those who were what kind of macroeconomic advice the CEA gave the President during December 1965. Realizing that the economy was at full employment and seeing the triple whammy of tax cuts, proposed Great Society domestic spending, and the run-up in Defense Department spending from the Vietnam War, the CEA strongly urged the President to push for fiscal restraint lest the Federal Reserve would have to raise interest rates to choke off excessive demand. The President fired back that the Great Society was important to him and that he was not ready to pull out of Vietnam. The President also noted that getting a reversal of the 1964 tax cuts would be politically difficult. The Federal Reserve did raise interest rates in 1966 leading to the 1966 Credit Crunch, which held inflation at bay. However, the Federal Reserve later reversed course unfortunately. So we eventually got a delayed and lukewarm version of the fiscal restraint that the CEA recommended way back in late 1965 – as Paul noted. Too little and too late.
For Schlaes to blame the run-up in inflation on the Keynesian economists that advised President Johnson only shows she has absolutely no clue. But then we knew that already.