Guian McKee

Fast Facts

  • Works on the Presidential Recordings Project
  • Expertise on Health Care Policy, Medicare, Medicaid, Urban Policy, the War on Poverty, the Great Society, Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy


Areas Of Expertise

  • Health
  • Law and Justice
  • Race and Racism
  • Social Issues

Guian McKee is an associate professor in Presidential Studies at the Miller Center. He received a PhD in American history at the University of California, Berkeley in May 2002, and he is the author of The Problem of Jobs: Liberalism, Race, and Deindustrialization in Philadelphia, published in November 2008 by the University of Chicago Press. At the Miller Center, McKee works extensively with the Presidential Recordings Program.

McKee’s research focuses on how federal policy, especially in the executive branch, plays out at the local level in American communities. He has written extensively about urban policy, including a book that explored the connections between local and federal economic, urban renewal, and antipoverty policies in Philadelphia between the 1950s and the 1980s. This project led to his extensive work on the Lyndon Johnson White House recordings focused on the War on Poverty, as well as on the wider development of the Great Society.

He is currently working on a book project that examines the rise of the health care economy in American cities after World War II, focusing on the development of hospitals and academic medical centers as critical but problematic urban economic anchors as well as drivers of cost in the larger health care system. This project builds on his earlier work by connecting social, political, and economic developments in specific places (Baltimore provides a core case study for the book) with larger policy choices, especially those made by presidents (drawing in particular on the Center’s presidential oral histories). His work offers an alternative narrative of health care policy history – and of health care reform – by focusing on the consequences of health care spending.

McKee has written about health care in a variety of venues, including an essay on the connections between health care employment and the upheavals in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray, as well as an op-ed on how both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton’s health care policy proposals in the 2016 Democratic primary ignored key parts of the health care cost problem. McKee’s work on health care also led to an essay on Lyndon Johnson and the passage of Medicare and Medicaid for the Miller Center’s First Year Project, for which he served as a co-editor of Volume 3 on Fiscal Policy and Volume 6 on Opportunity and Mobility.

As part of the Miller Center’s Presidential Recordings Program, McKee edited Volumes 6 and 7 of The Presidential Recordings of Lyndon B. Johnson. These volumes cover the period from mid-April to mid-June 1964, during which the Johnson administration lobbied for passage of the Civil Rights and Economic Opportunity Acts and struggled with increasing difficulties in Southeast Asia. He is also the editor of a thematic volume that includes all of Johnson’s recorded conversations about the War on Poverty. This project is currently being published digitally by the University of Virginia Press through its Rotunda electronic imprint.

He has published articles in the Journal of Urban HistoryJournal of Policy HistoryJournal of Planning History, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Community Development Investment Center, the Washington Post’s “Monkey Cage” blog, the Boston Globe, and U.S. News and World Report. In 2007, he delivered the keynote address at the conference "In the Shadow of the Great Society: American Politics, Culture and Society Since 1964," hosted by the Rothermere American Institute and the American History Research Seminar, University of Oxford, U.K. 

Guian McKee News Feed

A panel of professors and researchers discussed the pandemic’s impact on public health policy Wednesday, the first undertaking of the Miller Center’s Health Care Policy Initiative. The event included discussion about the legacy of COVID-19 in the U.S., how the Biden administration is dealing with the ongoing pandemic, the relationship between pandemics and foreign policy and how individuals can deal with uncertain public health measures as mask mandates are lifted around the country.
Guian McKee The Cavalier Daily
This week, we are exploring the history of healthcare policy. Many presidents have tried to pass healthcare reform in America, but time and time again healthcare has tested the limitations and the strengths of the bully pulpit. In today’s episode, we explored the history of the federal government’s interest in healthcare from the New Deal to Obamacare. We consider, why has healthcare reform been so tricky to implement? What role does the president play in passing healthcare reform? And, how has the pandemic shaped our ideas about healthcare, public health, and the presidency? We spoke with two special guests. Professor Merlin Chowkwanyun is an assistant professor at the Columbia University School of Public Health. His new book, All Health Politics is Local: Battles for Community Health in the Mid-Century United States is available for preorder from UNC Press. Dr. Guian McKee is an Associate Professor in Presidential Studies at the Miller Center, where he works on the Presidential Recordings Project. He is also currently working on a book project that examines the rise of the health care economy in American cities after World War II.
Guian McKee Bully Pulpit Podcast
In early March, the White House unveiled its new coronavirus response strategy aimed at creating what some are calling the beginning of a “new normal” in the nation’s fight against COVID-19. As the Omicron wave continues its decline and several states loosen pandemic-related restrictions, our experts are having a “state of the pandemic” discussion that will assess the rapidly shifting public health approach, what the U.S. role will be in the global efforts to deal with COVID, and what we might expect in the months ahead.
Guian McKee Miller Center Presents
Most mainstream economists today oppose price controls, although in recent months a sometimes-intense debate has emerged over the issue.
The Hill
The unified Western response to Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression has generated a sense of palpable relief that the democratic world is still capable of determined, unified action. A glimmer of hope, perhaps more than a glimmer, has emerged that the liberal international order might yet hold. In the United States, however, the past week provided evidence that the deep dysfunction of democracy remains. Congress, inexcusably, has failed to take the minimum necessary steps to prepare for future stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although many on Capitol Hill seem not to recognize it, this is an urgent matter not only of public health but of national security.
Guian McKee Miller Center Russia-Ukraine blog
Guian McKee serves as associate professor of presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs, where he is also co-director of the center’s new Health Care Policy Initiative. He is the author of Hospital City, Health Care Nation: Race, Capital, and the Costs of American Health Care, which will be published in February 2023 by the University of Pennsylvania Press. He is also the author of The Problem of Jobs: Liberalism, Race, and Deindustrialization in Philadelphia (2008, Chicago), and the editor or co-editor of five volumes in the Miller Center’s “Presidential Recordings of Lyndon Johnson” series.
Guian McKee CovidCalls Podcast