Skip to comments.Understanding Today By Remembering Our History: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Social Security
Posted on 06/28/2012 10:43:32 PM PDT by bd476
Presidential Statement Signing The Social Security Act.
AUGUST 14, 1935
Today a hope of many years' standing is in large part fulfilled. The civilization of the past hundred years, with its startling industrial changes, has tended more and more to make life insecure. Young people have come to wonder what would be their lot when they came to old age. The man with a job has wondered how long the job would last.
This social security measure gives at least some protection to thirty millions of our citizens who will reap direct benefits through unemployment compensation, through old-age pensions and through increased services for the protection of children and the prevention of ill health.
We can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.
This law, too, represents a cornerstone in a structure which is being built but is by no means complete. It is a structure intended to lessen the force of possible future depressions. It will act as a protection to future Administrations against the necessity of going deeply into debt to furnish relief to the needy. The law will flatten out the peaks and valleys of deflation and of inflation. It is, in short, a law that will take care of human needs and at the same time provide the United States an economic structure of vastly greater soundness.
I congratulate all of you ladies and gentlemen, all of you in the Congress, in the executive departments and all of you who come from private life, and I thank you for your splendid efforts in behalf of this sound, needed and patriotic legislation.
If the Senate and the House of Representatives in this long and arduous session had done nothing more than pass this Bill, the session would be regarded as historic for all time.
A Recommendation For Legislation Amending The Social Security Act-
DECEMBER 14, 1937.
My Dear Senator:
Mr. Altmeyer, Chairman of the Social Security Board, has submitted to me some non-controversial amendments to the Social Security Act. In brief, they cover the points listed in the attached memorandum. I feel they are of sufficient importance to warrant their passage at the earliest possible date.
As these amendments will considerably improve the effectiveness of this important Act, I have asked Chairman Altmeyer to discuss this matter with you personally.
Best wishes to you.
Very Sincerely yours,
Honorable Pat Harrison,
United States Senate,
(A similar letter was sent to Congressman Robert L. Doughton.)
Summary of Amendments to the Social Security Act, forwarded with the foregoing letter.
1. To pay death claims direct to the wife or dependent children and save expense of probating estates--as in veterans' laws. This would save real money to the widow and to the Board.
2. To change "wages payable" in unemployment compensation to "wages paid" as in old-age insurance and permit a duplicate list of wage payments and so complete our efforts greatly to simplify employers' wage reports.
3. To enable "merit rating" to work by making technical changes. It becomes effective in Wisconsin, January 1, 1938.
4. To permit earlier payment of unemployment compensation in states that passed their laws late. For two years funds have been built up in these states. With increasing unemployment this will get money earlier to those laid off.
5. To permit persons now 60 and over to continue working through 1941 to qualify upon retirement for monthly old-age annuities instead of receiving small lump sum payments. A great gain all around.
6. To increase coverage.
a. To seamen on American vessels. Approved by Maritime Commission and the International Seamen's Union and the National Maritime Union.
b. To employees of national banks, state banks that are members of the Federal Reserve System, institutions that are members of the Home Loan Bank system, and the like. The American Bankers Association approves.
NOTE: In signing the Social Security Act on August 14, 1935, I stated that it "represents a cornerstone in a structure which is being built but is by no means complete" (see Item 107, 1935 volume). The Act constituted a pioneer effort on the part of the Federal Government, but although it was comprehensive in scope we recognized that it would have to be developed with experience.
After over two years of operation of the Social Security Act, we concluded that it should be expanded in certain directions. Accordingly, I urged Senator Harrison, the Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Senate, and Representative Doughton, the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives, to consider the changes in the Act outlined by Chairman Altmeyer of the Social Security Board in the foregoing summary.
During 1938, Senator Harrison and Representative Doughton held frequent conferences with Chairman Altmeyer. Meanwhile, several new amendments to the Act seemed advisable and on April 28, 1938, I wrote to Chairman Altmeyer advocating that the old-age insurance system be revised and extended to provide for earlier payments. I also recommended that further liberalizing changes be made in the old-age insurance provisions of the Act (see Item 56, 1938 volume).
Inasmuch as several additional substantive amendments were being developed by the Social Security Board, it was decided to postpone congressional hearings upon all amendments until the final report of the Board was submitted. By the close of 1938, this report had been completed, and I transmitted it to the Congress on January 16, 1939 (see Item 11, 1939 volume).
After the report was submitted, hearings were held upon the amendments outlined in the foregoing letter and also upon the later suggestions of the Social Security Board. Many of these recommendations were enacted and approved by me on August 10, 1939 (Public No. 379, 76th Congress; 53 Stat. 1360).
(For a discussion of the nature of these amendments, see Item 109 and note, 1939 volume.)
A Recommendation For Liberalizing The Old-Age Insurance System
-- APRIL 28, 1938.
My Dear Mr. Chairman:
I am very anxious that in the press of administrative duties the Social Security Board will not lose sight of the necessity of studying ways and means of improving and extending the provisions of the Social Security Act.
The enactment of the Social Security Act marked a great advance in affording more equitable and effective protection to the people of this country against widespread and growing economic hazards. The successful operation of the Act is the best proof that it was soundly conceived. However, it would be unfortunate if we assumed that it was complete and final. Rather, we should be constantly seeking to perfect and strengthen it in the light of our accumulating experience and growing appreciation of social needs.
I am particularly anxious that the Board give attention to the development of a sound plan for liberalizing the old-age insurance system. In the development of such a plan I should like to have the Board give consideration to the feasibility of extending its coverage, commencing the payment of old-age insurance annuities at an earlier date than January 1, 1942, paying larger benefits than now provided in the Act for those retiring during the earlier years of the system, providing benefits for aged wives and widows, and providing benefits for young children of insured persons dying before reaching retirement age. It is my hope that the Board will be prepared to submit its recommendations before Congress reconvenes in January.
Very truly yours,
Mr. Arthur J. Altmeyer,
Social Security Board,
NOTE: The Social Security Act (Public No. 271, 74th Congress; 49 Stat. 620) expressly provides that the Social Security Board shall conduct studies and make recommendations related to the most effective methods of providing economic security through social insurance.
Pursuant to the foregoing request, the Board made a thorough survey of those proposals which I suggested in my letter to Chairman Altmeyer, along with various other changes which it appeared advisable to make. The Board submitted its report and recommendations; and I transmitted it to the Congress on January 16, 1939 (see Item 11, 1939 volume).
The report of the Board advocated the adoption of all the suggestions which I had asked in the above letter to be considered. Subsequently, these recommendations were written into law when the amendments to the Social Security Act were adopted on August 11, 1939 (see Item 109, 1939 volume).
1. Extending the coverage of the old-age insurance system. Under the 1939 amendments, the old-age insurance provisions of the Social Security Act were extended to include about 1,100,000 additional persons. The additional groups covered were seamen, bank employees, and employed persons, age sixty-five and over.
2. Commencing the payment of old-age insurance annuities at an earlier date than January 1, 1942. The 1939 amendments advanced the date for beginning monthly old-age insurance benefit payments to January 1, 1940.
3. Paying larger benefits than now provided in the Act for those retiring during the earlier years of the system. Under the original Act, the basic amount paid in old-age retirement benefits was computed from the total accumulated wages of the person retiring. Thus, an individual who reached sixty-five within a short time after the passage of the Act would not have a very large annuity because the wages accumulated would be small. Under the amendments adopted in 1939, the basis for paying benefits was changed from accumulated wages to average wages. In this way, a person retiring in the early years of the system would receive more than a paltry amount.
4. Providing benefits for aged wives and widows. The 1939 amendments to the Act granted supplemental benefits to the wife, age sixty-five or over, of an insured individual. The total amount of the wife's benefit equals one half of the husband's.
Additional provision was made for widows' old-age insurance benefits. Since the adoption of the 1939 amendments, when the widow of a fully insured individual reaches 65 she is eligible for a total benefit of three-fourths of that of her late husband. Regardless of age, a widow with one or more children now also receives a total benefit equal to three-fourths of that of her late husband.
5. Providing benefits for young children of insured persons dying before reaching retirement age. Under the 1939 amendments, monthly insurance benefits equal to one-half of the amount due to the parent are made available to unmarried dependent orphans who have not yet reached eighteen years of age.
"A Social Security Program Must Include All Those Who Need Its Protection."
Radio Address on the Third Anniversary of the Social Security Act.
AUGUST 15, 1938
You, my friends, in every walk of life and in every part of the Nation, who are active believers in Social Security:
The Social Security Act is three years old today. This is a good vantage point from which to take a long look backward to its beginnings, to cast an appraising eye over what it has accomplished so far, and to survey its possibilities of future growth.
Five years ago the term "social security" was new to American ears. Today it has significance for more than forty million men and women workers whose applications for old-age insurance accounts have been received; this system is designed to assure them an income for life after old age retires them from their jobs.
It has significance for more than twenty-seven and a half million men and women wage earners who have earned credits under State unemployment insurance laws which provide half wages to help bridge the gap between jobs.
It has significance for the needy men, women and children receiving assistance and for their families--at least two million three hundred thousand all told; with this cash assistance one million seven hundred thousand old folks are spending their last years in surroundings they know and with people they love; more than six hundred thousand dependent children are being taken care of by their own families; and about forty thousand blind people are assured of peace and security among familiar voices.
It has significance for the families and communities to whom expanded public health and child welfare services have brought added protection. And it has significance for all of us who, as citizens, have at heart the Security and the well-being of this great democracy.
These accomplishments of three years are impressive, yet we should not be unduly proud of them. Our Government in fulfilling an obvious obligation to the citizens of the country has been doing so only because the citizens require action from their Representatives. If the people, during these years, had chosen a reactionary Administration or a "do nothing" Congress, Social Security would still be in the conversational stage--a beautiful dream which might come true in the dim distant future.
But the underlying desire for personal and family security was nothing new. In the early days of colonization and through the long years following, the worker, the farmer, the merchant, the man of property, the preacher and the idealist came here to build, each for himself, a stronghold for the things he loved. The stronghold was his home; the things he loved and wished to protect were his family, his material and spiritual possessions.
His security, then as now, was bound to that of his friends and his neighbors.
But as the Nation has developed, as invention, industry and commerce have grown more complex, the hazards of life have become more complex. Among an increasing host of fellow citizens, among the often intangible forces of giant industry, man has discovered that his individual strength and wits were no longer enough. This was true not only of the worker at shop bench or ledger; it was true also of the merchant or manufacturer who employed him. Where heretofore men had turned to neighbors for help and advice, they now turned to Government.
Now this is interesting to consider. The first to turn to Government, the first to receive protection from Government, were not the poor and the lowly--those who had no resources other than their daily earnings--but the rich and the strong. Beginning in the nineteenth century, the United States passed protective laws designed, in the main, to give security to property owners, to industrialists, to merchants and to bankers. True, the little man often profited by this type of legislation; but that was a by-product rather than a motive.
Taking a generous view of the situation, I think it was not that Government deliberately ignored the working man but that the working man was not sufficiently articulate to make his needs and his problems known. The powerful in industry and commerce had powerful voices, both individually and as a group. And whenever they saw their possessions threatened, they raised their voices in appeals for government protection.
It was not until workers became more articulate through organization that protective labor legislation was passed. While such laws raised the standards of life, they still gave no assurance of economic security. Strength or skill of arm or brain did not guarantee a man a job; it did not guarantee him a roof; it did not guarantee him the ability to provide for those dependent upon him or to take care of himself when he was too old to work.
Long before the economic blight of the depression descended on the Nation, millions of our people were living in wastelands of want and fear. Men and women too old and infirm to work either depended on those who had but little to share, or spent their remaining years within the walls of a poorhouse. Fatherless children early learned the meaning of being a burden to relatives or to the community. Men and women, still strong, still young, but discarded as gainful workers, were drained of self-confidence and self-respect.
The millions of today want, and have a right to, the same security their forefathers sought--the assurance that with health and the willingness to work they will find a place for themselves in the social and economic system of the time.
Because it has become increasingly difficult for individuals to build their own security single-handed, Government must now step in and help them lay the foundation stones, just as Government in the past has helped lay the foundation of business and industry. We must face the fact that in this country we have a rich man's security and a poor man's security and that the Government owes equal obligations to both. National security is not a half and half manner: it is all or none.
The Social Security Act offers to all our citizens a workable and working method of meeting urgent present needs and of forestalling future need. It utilizes the familiar machinery of our Federal-State government to promote the common welfare and the economic stability of the Nation.
The Act does not offer anyone, either individually or collectively, an easy life--nor was it ever intended so to do. None of the sums of money paid out to individuals in assistance or in insurance will spell anything approaching abundance. But they will furnish that minimum necessity to keep a foothold; and that is the kind of protection Americans want.
What we are doing is good. But it is not good enough. To be truly national, a social security program must include all those who need its protection. Today many of our citizens are still excluded from old-age insurance and unemployment compensation because of the nature of their employment. This must be set aright; and it will be.
Some time ago I directed the Social Security Board to give attention to the development of a plan for liberalizing and extending the old-age insurance system to provide benefits for wives, widows and orphans. More recently, a National Health Conference was held at my suggestion to consider ways and means of extending to the people of this country more adequate health and medical services and also to afford the people of this country some protection against the economic losses arising out of ill health.
I am hopeful that on the basis of studies and investigations now under way, the Congress will improve and extend the law. I am also confident that each year will bring further development in Federal and State social security legislation--and that is as it should be. One word of warning, however. In our efforts to provide security for all of the American people, let us not allow ourselves to be misled by those who advocate short cuts to Utopia of fantastic financial schemes.
We have come a long way. But we still have a long way to go. There is still today a frontier that remains unconquered--an America unclaimed. This is the great, the nationwide frontier of insecurity, of human want and fear. This is the frontier--the America--we have set ourselves to reclaim.
This Third Anniversary would not be complete if I did not express the gratitude of the Nation to those splendid citizens who so greatly helped me in making social security legislation possible and to those patriotic men and women, both employers and employees, who in their daily activities are today hearing social security work.
First of all, to the first woman who has ever sat in the Cabinet of the United States--Miss Frances Perkins--then and now the Secretary of Labor. Then to the unselfish Commission of men and women who, in 1934, devoted themselves to the almost superhuman task of studying all manner of American problems, of examining legislation already attempted in other nations, and of coordinating the whole into practical recommendations for legislative action.
Finally, I thank publicly, as I have so often thanked them privately, four men who have had long and distinguished careers in the public service--Congressman David J. Lewis of Maryland, who is known as one of the Americas pioneers in the cause of Social Security; Senator Robert F. Wagner of New York, who also was long its advocate; Senator Harrison of Mississippi and Congressman Doughton of North Carolina, who carried the bill successfully through the Senate and the House of Representatives. They deserve and have the gratitude of all of us for this service to mankind!
NOTE: The idea of Social Security, which some reactionaries used to label as alien to the American tradition, has become so firmly rooted here in America that business, labor, finance, and all political parties now accept it as a permanent system. During the years since the passage of the original Social Security Act in 1935, we have been constantly studying the system in operation. As the result of many investigations and surveys, we have been able to strengthen the original act and to extend it to cover additional activities (see Item 163, 1937 volume; Item 56, this volume; Items 11 and 109, 1939 volume, and accompanying notes).
When I signed the Social Security Act, I stated what I conceived to be the basic purposes of the legislation (see Item 107 and note, 1935 volume, for a more detailed analysis of how the various phases of the Act actually operate). The program attempts to deal with many of the factors which make for economic insecurity among our people.
The first threat against security--that of spending one's aged years in the poor house is dispelled in two ways. In the first place, an old-age insurance system is established, enabling retirement at sixty-five on a pension. The amount of the pension depends upon wages received and taxes paid by both employers and employees. At present (1941), payrolls and wages are taxed 2 percent in order to raise the funds to pay the statutory benefits to workers and their wives who are over sixty-five. Survivors' benefits are now also available for aged widows or aged dependent parents, young widows with dependent children, and unmarried dependent orphans under eighteen.
In the second place, an old-age assistance program has been established, independent of the old-age insurance system. The assistance is in the form of federal grants-in-aid to the states to provide funds for the pensioning and relief of old people. When the federal government has approved the assistance plan of a particular state, it contributes with the states on a 50-50 basis up to a total of $40 per month per individual, with a little extra for administrative purposes.
The other great threat to security is the spectre of unemployment. Unemployment insurance has been set up largely on a state-administered basis in cooperation with the Federal Government. The federal payroll tax for this purpose is merely nominal, employers being freed from 90 percent of this tax if they contribute an equal amount to state unemployment insurance plans approved by the Social Security Board.
The United States Employment Service also maintains employment offices in the states to facilitate ready placement of job applicants where needed.
In addition to these forms of assistance, federal grants are made by the Social Security Board in varying amounts to assist the states in aiding dependent children, and needy blind persons. Under the Social Security Act, the Children's Bureau of the Department of Labor administers grants to states for maternal and child welfare and the aid of crippled children; the United States Public Health Service administers grants to states to develop state health programs; and the Office of Education administers grants to states for vocational rehabilitation.
With the exception of the Children's Bureau, all the above offices and bureaus have been placed within the Federal Security Agency since the adoption of Reorganization Plan No. 1 (see Item 66, 1939 volume). From the standpoint of effective coordination of the social security program, this is of great importance inasmuch as closer working relationships have been established among the Social Security Board, the United States Public Health Service, the Office of Education, the National Youth Administration, and the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Administratively, the Social Security Board is composed of three members, appointed by the President by and with the consent of the Senate. Not more than two of the members may be of one political party; and the President designates the chairman. Administrative and executive action is in the hands of the executive director, who also supervises and coordinates the work of the various bureaus. The actuary of the Board performs the important function of planning the various phases of the program on a long-range basis to determine the adequacy of funds available, benefits which can be paid, etc.
There are three operating bureaus and three service bureaus within the Social Security Board.
The operating bureaus are:
1. The Bureau of Old-Age and Survivors' Insurance, which administers the monthly benefits which are paid to aged workers, their wives, or survivors and dependent children, under the old-age insurance scheme.
2. The Bureau of Employment Security, which administers the unemployment compensation features of the Social Security Act; analyzes and certifies the adequacy of state unemployment compensation laws; furnishes technical aid to the states in drafting their legislation; assists the states in developing their administrative policies and specifications; supervises the functions of the former United States Employment Service; aids farmers, veterans and District of Columbia residents to obtain employment; and assists public employment offices throughout the country.
3. The Bureau of Public Assistance, which supervises federal grants for old-age assistance, aid to dependent children, and aid to the needy blind. It advises and assists the states in initiating or amending state public assistance laws, consults with the states on technical problems, acts as a clearing house for information gathered from the various states, and analyzes and develops standards and procedures.
The service bureaus within the Social Security Board consist of the Bureau of Research and Statistics, the Bureau of Accounts and Audits, and the Informational Service. These three service bureaus work in close conjunction with the operating bureaus.
The Bureau of Research and Statistics investigates such problems as the factors causing insecurity, the adequacy of existing legislation, and the problems caused by the application of the program to various population groups. It plans and conducts the statistical service, and advises the states on the statistical reports required by the Board. The Bureau publishes a record of the volume and trend of general relief in the United States, in collaboration with other government and private agencies.
The Bureau of Accounts and Audits maintains the accounting and auditing records of the Board. It has charge of an administrative audit and also a field audit of states receiving federal grants. It examines financial insufficiency of state plans submitted, and assists the states in improving their accounting procedures. It also advises the Board on governmental fiscal programs.
The Informational Service keeps the public posted, and answers inquiries about rights, benefits and responsibilities under the Act. It also cooperates with the states in planning and conducting their informational programs.
In the fiscal year ending June 30, 1940, individuals participating in the Social Security Act and related state legislation received a total of $1,085,800,000 in comparison with $897,000,000 for the preceding year. The amount for 1939-40 was distributed as follows:
Old-age and Survivors insurance......$17,600,000
The above amounts do not include the funds allotted to the states to cover administrative expenses, nor do they include expenditures by other federal agencies for public health, welfare and vocational rehabilitation services under the Social Security Act.
Since the United States Employment Service has been consolidated into the Social Security Board, the employment security program of the Board has been expanded and strengthened. The state employment offices maintained by federal funds filled more than 3,500,000 jobs during the past year, and were instrumental in making 1,100,000 supplementary placements. By the end of the fiscal year 1940, there were close to 1,500 employment offices and more than 3,000 itinerant service facilities provided throughout the country. Having the information drawn from state unemployment compensation systems at its disposal, the Board is now in a strategic position to help to bring workers and jobs together.
By June, 1940, approximately 28 million workers had wage credits under state unemployment compensation laws. At the same date, more than 40 million had received wages counting toward old age benefits. During the fiscal year, benefits were advanced to more than 5 million different persons unemployed in that period, totaling nearly $500,000,000, and the weekly average of workers receiving such benefits exceeded $73,000. In addition, under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act, administered by the Railroad Retirement Board, 161,000 workers received benefits totaling $14,800,000.
In the brief period since January 1, 1940 that the old-age and survivors' insurance system has been in operation, nearly 109,000 persons have received monthly benefits. When this program reaches its peak level, it will involve a larger number of persons and a larger amount of funds than any phase of the social security scheme. Although the amount already made available is small in dollars, it has been invaluable in restoring faith in the future.
The amendments to the Social Security Act passed in 1939 stimulated the states to participate actively in the public assistance plans under the Act. About 2,200,000 needy aged persons, 55,000 blind persons, and 1 million children in over 400,000 families were assisted under the terms of the Act during the fiscal year 1939-1940. It is interesting to note that whereas during the fiscal year 1938-1939 public assistance to the needy aged, blind and children constituted 14.4 percent of the aggregate expenditures for public aid, in the year ending June 30, 1940, similar assistance represented 18.3 percent of the aggregate expenditures of $3,300,000,000 by the Federal Government for public aid.
The Social Security Board and the machinery set up under the program have played an important role in meeting the requirements of national defense. In April 1940, an inventory was made of the active file of those who had registered at public employment offices. With the work histories of 5 million job seekers available, it was easier to determine what the existing labor reserves were and where they existed.
In June 1940, the Social Security Board assembled the Federal Advisory Council for Employment Security to consider defense problems. This body, consisting of representatives of employers, employees and the public, was originally appointed to advise the Board on questions arising in connection with the public employment offices. After a two-day conference, the Advisory Council presented an eight-point program which was accepted on June 28, 1940, by the Advisory Commission to the Council of National Defense.
This plan urged employers and employees to communicate their immediate and prospective employment requirements promptly to the local public employment office, and to depend upon this machinery to fulfill their needs. The employment offices were directed to recatalog the skills available, and take steps to institute training programs where there was a shortage. It was further recommended that the decentralized features of this program be preserved, that preference be accorded to citizens, and that in the event of universal registration for defense an inventory of employment qualifications be made.
Under the Second Deficiency Appropriation Act, approved June 27, 1940, $2,000,000 was appropriated to assist and supervise state employment services in selecting and placing workers in national defense industries. Funds were also provided for the Office of Education to cooperate with the Social Security Board in providing vocational training for workers selected from public employment registers.
Since the speeding up of the defense program, there has been very close cooperation with the National Defense Advisory Commission and the Office of Production Management, the War and Navy Departments, the Selective Service System, and Civil Service Commission.
The public employment offices, as of October 31, 1940, have registered a total of 192,129 workers equipped with skill or experience in about 500 different industries, including such essential defense activities as aircraft, machine shop work and machine tool manufacturing, foundry work, construction, ship building, metal working, electrical equipment, radio, telephone and telegraph.
The employment offices have aided measurably in furthering the defense program through placing men in these industries. There is special cooperation with the Civil Service Commission in the maintenance of an adequate supply of men for placement in arsenals and navy yards. In order to maintain adequate labor reserves and to guide the transfer of workers from point to point, thirteen regional clearance offices have been established.
The Board has aided the War Department in analyzing army jobs, and has helped local selective service boards in assembling information to be used for classification or deferment of workers. As the result of visits to 20,000 defense plants, the Board has compiled estimates of defense labor requirements to be supplied to all of the defense agencies. These estimates are very significant summaries of employment conditions, changes in labor demand and supply, and trends in hiring practices.
In my message to the Congress on September 14, 1940, I called attention to the need for additional legislation to protect the social insurance of those called into military service (see Item 96, 1940 volume). The Board has participated actively in developing plans for taking care of those who joined the armed forces.
There is, of course, still room for improvement in our social security system. I have repeatedly recommended that it be extended to cover many of the occupations now specifically exempted under the Act (see Item 163, 1937 volume; Item 56, this volume; Items 11 and 109, 1939 volume). Also, the health provisions of the Social Security Act are now inadequate to cover the costs of medical care and provide for temporary or permanent disability.] There are other changes which have been suggested from time to time by the Board, the most pressing of which concerns the plight of those states financially incapable of matching federal grants for public assistance. In 1939, the Board recommended that the grants be placed upon a different basis in order to take care of the varying economic capacities of the states; but the Congress failed to pass this proposal.
Yet the program has gone a long way toward eliminating one of the most fearsome evils of our economic system--insecurity. It has provided new life and hope for millions of our citizens, and has bolstered the mechanisms of our economy to help it withstand the dislocations of war as well as the shock of great economic cycles of disaster in peace-time.
A Message Transmitting To The Congress A Report Of The Social Security Board Recommending Certain Improvements In The Law.
-- JANUARY 16, 1939.
To the Congress:
Four years ago I sent to the newly convened Congress a message transmitting a report of the Committee on Economic Security. In that message I urged that Congress consider the enactment into law of the program of protection for our people outlined in that report. The Congress acted upon that recommendation and today we have the Social Security Act in effect throughout the length and breadth of our country.
This Act has amply proved its essential soundness. More than two and one half million needy old people, needy blind persons, and dependent children are now receiving systematic and humane assistance to the extent of a half billion dollars a year.
Three and a half million unemployed persons have received out-of-work benefits amounting to $400,000,000 during the last year.
A Federal old-age insurance system, the largest undertaking of its kind ever attempted, has been organized and under it there have been set up individual accounts covering 42,500,000 persons who may be likened to the policy holders of a private insurance company.
In addition there are the splendid accomplishments in the field of public health, vocational rehabilitation, maternal and child welfare and related services, made possible by the Social Security Act.
We have a right to be proud of the progress we have made in the short time the Social Security Act has been in operation. However, we would be derelict in our responsibility if we did not take advantage of the experience we have accumulated to strengthen and extend its provisions.
I submit for your consideration a report of the Social Security Board, which, at my direction and in accordance with the congressional mandate contained in the Social Security Act itself, has been assembling data, and developing ways and means of improving the operation of the Social Security Act.
I particularly call attention to the desirability of affording greater old age security. The report suggests a two-fold approach which I believe to be sound. One way is to begin the payment of monthly old-age insurance benefits sooner, and to liberalize the benefits to be paid in the early years. The other way is to make proportionately larger Federal grants-in-aid to those states with limited fiscal capacities, so that they may provide more adequate assistance to those in need. This result can and should be accomplished in such a way as to involve little, if any, additional cost to the Federal Government. Such a method embodies a principle that may well be applied to other Federal grants-in-aid.
I also call attention to the desirability of affording greater protection to dependent children. Here again the report suggests a two-fold approach which I believe to be sound. One way is to extend our Federal old-age insurance system so as to provide regular monthly benefits not only to the aged but also to the dependent children of workers dying before reaching retirement age. The other way is to liberalize the Federal grants-in-aid to the states to help finance assistance to dependent children.
As regards both the Federal old-age insurance system and the Federal-State unemployment compensation system, equity and sound social policy require that the benefits be extended to all of our people as rapidly as administrative experience and public understanding permit. Such an extension is particularly important in the case of the Federal old-age insurance system. Even without amendment the old-age insurance benefits payable in the early years are very liberal in comparison with the taxes paid. This is necessarily so in order that these benefits may accomplish their purpose of forestalling dependency. But this very fact creates the necessity of extending this protection to as large a proportion as possible of our employed population in order to avoid unfair discrimination.
Much of the success of the Social Security Act is due to the fact that all of the programs contained in this act (with one necessary exception) are administered by the states themselves, but coordinated and partially financed by the Federal Government. This method has given us flexible administration, and has enabled us to put these programs into operation quickly. However, in some states incompetent and politically dominated personnel has been distinctly harmful. Therefore, I recommend that the states be required, as a condition for the receipt of Federal funds, to establish and maintain a merit system for the selection of personnel. Such a requirement would represent a protection to the states and citizens thereof rather than an encroachment by the Federal Government, since it would automatically promote efficiency and eliminate the necessity for minute Federal scrutiny of state operations.
I cannot too strongly urge the wisdom of building upon the principles contained in the present Social Security Act in affording greater protection to our people, rather than turning to untried and demonstrably unsound panaceas. As I stated in my message four years ago: "It is overwhelmingly important to avoid any danger of permanently discrediting the sound and necessary policy of Federal legislation for economic security by attempting to apply it on too ambitious a scale before actual experience has provided guidance for the permanently safe direction of such efforts. The place of such a fundamental in our future civilization is too precious to be jeopardized now by the extravagant action."
We shall make the most orderly progress if we look upon social security as a development toward a goal rather than a finished product. We shall make the most lasting progress if we recognize that social security can furnish only a base upon which each one of our citizens may build his individual security through his own individual efforts.
NOTE: Back in 1934, I created an Advisory Council on Economic Security to assist the Committee on Economic Security in its investigations which eventually led to the formulation and adoption of the Social Security Act in 1935 (see Items 117 and 179, 1934 volume). The Act was based upon the careful research and the thorough studies and surveys made by both the Advisory Council and the Committee.
Since the passage of the basic statute, we have had considerable experience in the administration of the social security program. We had an opportunity to test the operation of its various features, in order to determine the directions in which it might be plausible to expand the Act.
In May 1937, another Advisory Council on Social Security was appointed by the Social Security Board and by a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Finance. This body was similar in some respects to the old Advisory Council which I had created in 1934. It was composed of twenty-five members, representing employers, employees, and the public; and it concentrated its attention upon the problems arising out of the operation of the old-age insurance program.
Throughout 1937 and 1938, the Advisory Council investigated the ways in which the old-age insurance provisions of the Act could be improved. At the same time, the Social Security Board itself was carrying on surveys, and on December 14, 1937, Chairman Altmeyer submitted to me a list of suggested improvements (see Item 163, and note, 1937 volume). On April 28, 1938, I wrote to Chairman Altmeyer requesting that the Board study some additional changes in the old-age insurance provisions (see Item 56, and note, 1938 volume).
The "Final Report of the Advisory Council on Social Security," dated December 10, 1938, was before the Committee on Finance of the Senate and the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives when they started their deliberations on the Act. The report of the Social Security Board on the proposed changes in the Act was also referred to the congressional committees concerned, along with the foregoing message which I sent to the Congress.
From February 1 until April 7, 1939, the House Ways and Means Committee held hearings on possible amendments to the Act, and over ninety social security bills were referred to the Committee. H.R. 6635 finally passed the House of Representatives on June 10, 1939, by a vote of 361 to 2, and the bill as amended passed the
Senate on July 13, 1939, by a vote of 57-8. After the adoption of the conference report, I signed H.R. 6635 on August 10, 1939 as 53.Stat. 1360 (see Item 109, this volume).
Most of the reforms recommended by the Social Security Board were embodied in the amendments which were passed by the Congress. The following account outlines changes which the Board advocated, and the extent to which their suggestions were followed by the Congress:
1. Federal Old-Age Insurance
The Board recommended that monthly benefit payments start in 1940 instead of on January 1, 1942, as scheduled. The amendments advanced the date for beginning payments to January 1, 1940.
Because those retiring in the early years of the operation of the system would receive very small amounts, the Board suggested that supplementary benefits be provided for aged wives, and that average wages instead of total wages be used as a basis for computing benefits. Both these reforms were carried into effect when the amendments were passed, with aged wives being granted supplementary benefits totaling one-half of the old-age insurance benefit of their husbands.
Under the Social Security Act of 1935, single lump-sum cash payments amounting to 3 ½ percent of the worker's total wages were made at the time of his death. The Board felt that monthly benefits to widows and orphans would be preferable. These recommendations were carried out by the 1939 amendments, which granted monthly benefits to widows who had reached 65, unmarried dependent orphans under 18, younger widows with children, and aged dependent parents.
The Social Security Board recommended that the old-age insurance system be extended to cover employees in large-scale farming operations, and that eventually agricultural labor be covered completely. Likewise, it was advocated that the following groups be covered into the operation of the Act: domestic service, maritime employment (with the exception of foreign crews on American vessels engaged in foreign trade), services performed for religious, educational, charitable and non-profit organizations, services performed for the federal and state governments or their instrumentalities, those workers employed after they passed the age of 65, and those workers performing personal service who did not fall within the term "employee" as used in this Act.
Under the 1939 amendments, three of the above groups were placed within the system: maritime workers, those earning wages after they reached 65, and employees of federal instrumentalities, such as member banks in the Federal Reserve System.
Several other clarifying amendments were passed, such as the exemption of foreign governments and their instrumentalities, the exclusion of any instrumentality wholly state-owned or constitutionally tax-exempt, and the coverage of an employee performing both excluded and included types of employment where the latter predominates during a particular pay period.
The Board made no definite recommendations regarding the financing of the system, beyond stating that if additional funds were needed, they should be raised by taxes other than those on payrolls.
The 1939 amendments postponed until 1943 the increased taxes to be paid by employers and employees. Under the original terms of the Act, the 1 percent old-age insurance tax was to be stepped up to 1 ½ percent during the years 1940, 1941, and 1942. However, the amendments froze the rate of 1 percent until 1942, thus saving employers and workers about $275,000,000 in 1940 and $825,000,000 for the three years.
d. Administrative changes
The following recommendations of the Board were enacted in the 1939 amendments:
(1) Employers are now required to make a statement to employees showing the amount of taxes deducted from their wages under the old-age insurance system.
(2) The recovery by the Federal Government of incorrect payments to individuals has been rendered easier.
(3) Provisions have been made respecting the practice of attorneys and agents before the Board.
(4) Employers are not required to pay taxes on payments they make under any employer welfare plan providing for retirement benefits, disability benefits, medical and hospital expenses, etc.
2. Unemployment Compensation
In general, the Board advocated that coverage be extended to the same groups which it suggested should be included under the old-age insurance provisions of the Act. With the passage of the amendments, about 200,000 additional persons, chiefly bank employees, were brought into the unemployment compensation branch of the system.
The Board felt that certain features of both the old-age insurance and unemployment compensation sections of the Act should be standardized. Since, under old-age insurance, only the first $3,000 paid to an employee is taxed, a similar recommendation was made for unemployment compensation, and it was embodied in the 1939 amendments. A suggestion that the tax provisions of the two systems be combined or made identical, in order to facilitate record-keeping, was not adopted. However, the Board asked that the taxes for unemployment compensation be imposed on "wages paid," instead of "wages payable," and when the Congress adopted this amendment it established the same basis as used in old-age insurance.
The Board proposed certain liberalizations in the time limit within which an employer could qualify for the 90 percent credit against the federal tax by contributing to state unemployment insurance funds. As asked by the Board, the time limit was extended where the employer has paid his tax on time, but to the wrong state. Also, the amendments of 1939 saved employers approximately $15,000,000 by providing that they would receive full credit for delinquent 1936, 1937 and 1938 taxes paid within sixty days after the passage of the amendments. Other minor changes eased the stringent provisions governing delinquent taxpayers.
c. Administrative changes
The following recommendations of the Board were subsequently enacted:
(1) As in the case of the old-age insurance provisions of the law, payments under employer welfare plans are made exempt from taxation.
(2) States are required to establish and maintain a merit system for the personnel in unemployment compensation agencies, in order to be eligible for federal grants.
(3) The Board recommended that the administration of unemployment compensation and of the United States Employment Service should be placed within a single federal bureau. Under Reorganization Plan No. 1, the United States Employment Service was transferred from the Department of Labor to the Federal Security Agency, and its functions were consolidated with the unemployment compensation functions of the Social Security Board (see Item 66, this volume).
(4) As in old-age insurance, the language excluding state instrumentalities is clarified to apply to any instrumentality wholly owned by the states or political subdivisions thereof, as well as those exempt from tax under the constitution.
(5) Exemption of foreign governments and their instrumentalities from the unemployment compensation tax.
(6) States are now required to enact laws providing that expenditures be in accordance with the provisions of the federal act.
(7) The provisions relating to "merit rating" or "individual employer experience rating" have been clarified in accordance with the recommendations of the Social Security Board.
3. Public Assistance
The Board recommended that the present uniform percentage grants be changed to a system which would take into account the varying economic capacities of the States. However, no action was taken by the Congress.
a. Old-age assistance, and aid to the blind.
The Board proposed that federal contributions for the administration of grants-in-aid to the states should be increased. In the 1939 amendments it was provided that the federal government contribute 50 percent of state assistance payments to needy aged and blind up to a maximum limit of $40 a month. Inasmuch as the previous limit was $30 a month, the maximum federal grant per aged or blind persons was thus increased from $15 to $20 per month.
b. Aid to dependent children. The following recommendations of the Board were subsequently embodied in the 1939 amendments to the Social Security Act:
(1) The contribution of the federal government toward state aid to dependent children was increased from one-third to one-half of the amount granted to each individual.
(2) Where a child is regularly attending school, the age limit is raised from 16 to 18 to enable most children to finish high school.
(3) Before the passage of the amendments, the federal government was limited to contributing $18 per month for the first child and $12 per month for each child thereafter. The Board suggested a liberalization of this amount, and now the federal government will pay one-half the amounts up to an average of $18 per child per month throughout the state.
c. Public assistance for Indians
The Board advocated that the Federal Government reimburse the states for the entire cost of public assistance to certain Indians. No action was taken by the Congress upon this recommendation.
d. Maternal and child health services, and services for crippled children.
Although the Social Security Board made no recommendations on these aspects of public assistance, which are administered by the Children's Bureau of the Department of Labor, testimony presented to the Senate Committee holding hearings upon the Wagner national health bill (see Item 17 and note, this volume) showed the immediate need for expanding assistance along these lines. Greater amounts of federal money, under the 1939 amendments, are authorized to be appropriated to assist the states in extending these services. The total amount authorized to be appropriated for maternal and child health grants was increased from $3,800,000 to $5,820,000, while that for crippled children was increased from $2,850,000 to $3,870,000.
The 1939 amendments to those titles of the Act covering aid to the needy aged, blind, dependent children, maternal and child health services and services for crippled children provided that approval of state plans was contingent upon the establishment of personnel standards on a merit basis.
c. Public health work
The Social Security Board urged the enactment of the National Health Program presented by the Interdepartmental Committee to Coordinate Health and Welfare Activities (see Item 17, and note, this volume). The amendments of 1939 stipulated that the amount authorized to be appropriated for federal aid to state public health programs should be increased from $8,000,000 to $11,000,000. Following this increase, particular emphasis has been placed upon developing control of tuberculosis, malaria, cancer, pneumonia, and industrial hygiene.
4. Vocational Rehabilitation
The Board made no additional recommendations regarding this phase of the Social Security Act, but the 1939 amendments increased the annual allotment from $1,938,000 to $4,000,000, to be divided among the states, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
(For a discussion of the accomplishments of the Social Security Act, see Item 107 and note, 1935 volume; and Item 103 and note, 1938 volume.)
Message to Congress on the National Health Program - January 23, 1939
To the Congress:
In my annual message to the Congress I referred to problems of health security. I take occasion now to bring this subject specifically to your attention in transmitting the report and recommendations on national health prepared by the Interdepartmental Committee to Coordinate Health and Welfare Activities.
The health of the people is a public concern; ill health is a major cause of suffering, economic loss, and dependency; good health is essential to the security and progress of the Nation.
Health needs were studied by the Committee on Economic Security which I appointed in 1934 and certain basic steps were taken by the Congress in the Social Security Act. It was recognized at that time that a comprehensive health program was required as an essential link in our national defenses against individual and social insecurity. Further study, however, seemed necessary at that time to determine ways and means of providing this protection most effectively.
In August, 1935, after the passage of the Social Security Act, I appointed the Interdepartmental Committee to Coordinate Health and Welfare Activities. Early in 1938, this committee forwarded to me reports prepared by its technical experts. They had reviewed unmet health needs, pointing to the desirability of a national health program, and they submitted the outlines of such a program. These reports were impressive. I therefore suggested that a conference be held to bring the findings before representatives of the general public and of the medical, public health, and allied professions.
More than 200 men and women, representing many walks of life and many parts of our country, came together in Washington last July to consider the technical committee's findings and recommendations and to offer further proposals. There was agreement on two basic points: The existence of serious unmet needs for medical service; and our failure to make full application of the growing powers of medical science to prevent or control disease and disability.
I have been concerned by the evidence of inequalities that exist among the States as to personnel and facilities for health services. There are equally serious inequalities of resources, medical facilities and services in different sections and among different economic groups. These inequalities create handicaps for the parts of our country and the groups of our people which most sorely need the benefits of modern medical science.
The objective of a national health program is to make available in all parts of our country and for all groups of our people the scientific knowledge and skill at our command to prevent and care for sickness and disability; to safeguard mothers, infants and children; and to offset through social insurance the loss of earnings among workers who are temporarily or permanently disabled.
The committee does not propose a great expansion of Federal health services. It recommends that plans be worked out and administered by States and localities with the assistance of Federal grants-in-aid. The aim is a flexible program. The committee points out that while the eventual costs of the proposed program would be considerable, they represent a sound investment which can be expected to wipe out, in the long run, certain costs now borne in the form of relief.
We have reason to derive great satisfaction from the increase in the average length of life in our country and from the improvement in the average levels of health and well-being. Yet these improvements in the averages are cold comfort to the millions of our people whose security in health and survival is still as limited as was that of the Nation as a whole fifty years ago.
The average level of health or the average cost of sickness has little meaning for those who now must meet personal catastrophes. To know that a stream is four feet deep on the average is of little help to those who drown in the places where it is ten feet deep. The recommendations of the committee offer a program to bridge that stream by reducing the risks of needless suffering and death, and of costs and dependency, that now overwhelm millions of individual families and sap the resources of the Nation.
I recommend the report of the Interdepartmental Committee for careful study by the Congress. The essence of the program recommended by the Committee is Federal-State cooperation. Federal legislation necessarily precedes, for it indicates the assistance which may be made available to the States in a cooperative program for the Nation's health.
Presidential Statement on Signing Some Amendments to the Social Security Act --August 11, 1939
IT WILL be exactly four years ago on the fourteenth day of this month that I signed the original Social Security Act. As I indicated at that time and on various occasions since that time, we must expect a great program of social legislation, such as is represented in the Social Security Act, to be improved and strengthened in the light of additional experience and understanding. These amendments to the Act represent another tremendous step forward in providing greater security for the people of this country. This is especially true in the case of the federal old age insurance system which has now been converted into a system of old age and survivors' insurance providing life-time family security instead of only individual old age security to the workers in insured occupations. In addition to the worker himself, millions of widows and orphans will now be afforded some degree of protection in the event of his death whether before or after his retirement.
The size of the benefits to be paid during the early years will be far more adequate than under the present law. However, a reasonable relationship is retained between wage loss sustained and benefits received. This is a most important distinguishing characteristic of social insurance as contrasted with any system of flat pensions.
Payment of old age benefits will begin on January 1, 1940, instead of January 1, 1942. Increase in pay-roll taxes, scheduled to take place in January, 1940, is deferred. Benefit payments in the early years are substantially increased.
I am glad that the insurance benefits have been extended to cover workers in some occupations that have previously not been covered. However, workers in other occupations have been excluded. In my opinion, it is imperative that these insurance benefits be extended to workers in all occupations.
The Federal-State system of providing assistance to the needy aged, the needy blind, and dependent children, has also been strengthened by increasing the federal aid. I am particularly gratified that the Federal matching ratio to States for aid to dependent children has been increased from one-third to one-half of the aid granted. I am also happy that greater Federal contributions will be made for public health, maternal and child welfare, crippled children, and vocational rehabilitation. These changes will make still more effective the Federal-State cooperative relationship upon which the Social Security Act is based and which constitutes its great strength. It is important to note in this connection that the increased assistance the States will now be able to give will continue to be furnished on the basis of individual need, thus affording the greatest degree of protection within reasonable financial bounds.
As regards administration, probably the most important change that has been made is to require that State agencies administering any part of the Social Security Act coming within the jurisdiction of the Social Security Board and the Children's Bureau shall set up a merit system for their employees. An essential element of any merit system is that employees shall be selected on a non-political basis and shall function on a non-political basis.
In 1934 I appointed a committee called the Committee on Economic Security made up of Government officials to study the whole problem of economic and social security and to develop a legislative program for the same. The present law is the result of its deliberations. That committee is still in existence and has considered and recommended the present amendments. In order to give reality and coordination to the study of any further developments that appear necessary I am asking the committee to continue its life and to make active study of various proposals which may be made for amendments or developments to the Social Security Act.
Campaign Address On The "Economic Bill of Rights."
OCTOBER 28, 1944
The American people are now engaged in the greatest war in history--and we are also engaged in a political campaign.
We are fighting this war and we are holding this election--both for the same essential reason: because we have faith in democracy.
And there is no force and there is no combination of forces powerful enough to shake that faith.
As you know, I have had some previous experience in war--and I have also had a certain amount of previous experience in political campaigning.
But--I must confess--this is the strangest campaign I have ever seen.
I have listened to the various Republican orators who are urging the people to throw the present Administration out and put them in. And what do they say?
Well, they say in effect, just this:
"Those incompetent bunglers in Washington have passed a lot of excellent laws about social security and labor and farm relief and soil conservation--and many others--and we promise if elected not to change any of them."
And they go on to say: "These same quarrelsome tired old men have built the greatest military machine the world has ever known, which is fighting its way to victory; and, if you elect us, we promise not to change any of that, either."
"Therefore," say these Republican orators, "it is time for a change."
They also say in effect: "Those inefficient and worn out crackpots have really begun to lay the foundations of a lasting world peace. If you elect us, we will not change of any of that either." "But," they whisper, "we'll do it in such a way that we won't lose the support even of Gerald Nye or Gerald Smith--and-and this is very important--we won't lose the support of any isolationist campaign contributor. We will even be able to satisfy the Chicago Tribune."
Tonight, I shall talk simply about the future of America--about this land of unlimited opportunity. I shall give the Republican campaign orators some more opportunities to say--"me too."
Today everything we do is devoted to the most important job before us--winning the war and bringing our men and women home as quickly as possible.
We have astonished the world and confounded our enemies with our stupendous war production, with the overwhelming courage and skill of our fighting men--with the bridge of ships carrying our munitions and men through the seven seas--with our gigantic Fleet which has pounded the enemy all over the Pacific and has just driven through for a touchdown.
The American people are prepared to meet the problems of peace in the same bold way that they have met the problems of war.
For the American people are resolved that when our men and women return home from this war, they shall come back to the best possible place on the face of this earth--to a place where all persons, regardless of race, color, creed or place of birth, can live in peace, honor and human dignity--free to speak, and pray as they wish--free from want--and free from fear.
Last January, in my Message to the Congress on the state of the Union, I outlined an Economic Bill of Rights on which "a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all--regardless of station, race or creed":
I repeat them now:
"The right of a useful and remunerative job in the industries, or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
"The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
"The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
"The right of every business man, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
"The right of every family to a decent home;
"The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
"The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident and unemployment;
"The right to a good education.
"All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being."
Some people have sneered at these ideals as well as the ideals of the Atlantic Charter and the Four Freedoms--saying they were the dreams of starry-eyed New Dealers--that it's silly to talk of them because we cannot attain these ideals tomorrow or the next day.
The American people have greater faith than that. I know that they agree with those objectives--that they demand them--that they are determined to get them--and that they are going to get them.
The American people have a habit of going right ahead and accomplishing the impossible.
And the people today who know that best are the Nazis and the Japs.
This Economic Bill of Rights is the recognition of the simple fact that, in America, the future of the worker and farmer lies in the well-being of private enterprise; and that the future of private enterprise lies in the well-being of the worker and farmer.
The well-being of the Nation as a whole is synonymous with the well-being of each and every one of its citizens.
Now, I have the possibly old fashioned theory that when you have problems to solve, objectives to achieve, you cannot get very far by just talking about them.
You have got to go out and do something!
To assure that full realization of the right to a useful and remunerative employment, an adequate program must provide America with close to sixty million productive jobs.
I foresee an expansion of our peacetime productive capacity which will require new facilities, new plants and new equipment--capable of hiring millions more men.
I propose that Government do its part in helping private enterprise to finance expansion of our private industrial plant through normal investment channels.
For example, business, large and small, must be encouraged by the Government to expand their plants and to replace their obsolete or worn out equipment with new equipment. And to that end, the rate of depreciation on these new plants and facilities for tax purposes should be accelerated. That means more jobs for the worker, increased profits for the business man, and lower cost to the consumer.
In 1933, when my Administration took office, vast numbers of our industrial workers were unemployed, our plants and businesses were idle, our monetary and banking system in ruins--our economic resources were running to waste.
By 1940--before Pearl Harbor--we had increased our employment by ten million workers. We had converted a corporate loss of five billion five hundred million dollars in 1932, to a corporate profit (after taxes) of nearly five billion dollars 1940.
Obviously, to increase jobs after this war, we shall have to increase demand for our industrial and agricultural production not only here at home, but also abroad.
I am sure that every man and woman in this vast gathering here tonight agree with me in my conviction that never again must we in the United States attempt to isolate ourselves from the rest of humanity.
I am confident that, with Congressional approval, tile foreign trade of the United States can be trebled after the war--providing millions of more jobs.
Such cooperative measures provide the soundest economic foundation for a lasting peace. And, after this war, we do not intend to settle for anything less than lasting peace.
When we think of the America of tomorrow, we think of many things.
One of them is American homes--in our cities, in our villages and on our farms. Millions of our people have never had homes worthy of American standards--well built homes with electricity and plumbing and air and sunlight.
The demand for homes and our capacity to build them call for a program of well over a million homes a year for at least ten years. Private industry can build and finance the vast majority of these homes. Government can and will assist and encourage private industry to do this, as it has for many years. For those very low income groups that cannot possibly afford decent homes, the Federal Government should continue to assist local housing authorities in meeting that need.
In the future America we think of new highways and parkways. We think of thousands of new airports to service the new commercial and private air travel which is bound to come after the war. We think of new airplanes, new cheap automobiles with low maintenance and operation costs. We think of new hospitals and new health clinics. We think of a new merchant marine for our expanded world trade.
Think of all these vast possibilities for industrial expansion--and you will foresee opportunities for more millions of jobs.
Our Economic Bill of Rights--like the sacred Bill of Rights of our Constitution itself--must be applied to all our citizens, irrespective of race, creed or color.
In 1941, I appointed a Fair Employment Practice Committee to prevent discrimination in war industry and Government employment. The work of the Committee and the results obtained more than justify its creation.
I believe that the Congress should by law make the Committee permanent.
America must remain the land of high wages and efficient production. Every full-time job in America must provide enough for a decent living. And that goes for jobs in mines, offices, factories, stores, canneries--and everywhere where men and women are employed.
During the war we have been compelled to limit wage and salary increases for one great objective--to prevent runaway inflation. You all know how successfully we have held the line by the way your cost of living has been kept clown.
However, at the end of the war there wilt be more goods available, and it is only good common sense to see to it that the working man is paid enough, and that the farmers earn enough, to buy these goods and keep our factories running. It is a simple fact that a greatly increased production of food and fibre on the forms can be consumed by the people who work in industry only if those people who work in industry have enough money to buy food and clothing. If industrial wages go down, farm prices will go down too. After the war, we shall of course remove the control of wages and leave their determination to free collective bargaining between trade unions and employers.
In this war, the American farmer has been called upon to do far and away the biggest food production job in history.
The American farmer has met that challenge triumphantly.
Despite all manner of wartime difficulties--shortage of farm labor and of new farm machinery--the American farmer has achieved a total of food production which is one of the wonders of the world.
The American farmer is a great producer; and he must have the means to be also a great consumer. For more farm income means more jobs everywhere in the nation.
Let us look back for a moment to 1932. All of us remember the spreading tide of farm foreclosures; we remember four-cent hogs, twenty-cent wheat, five-cent cotton.
I am going to give you some figures of recovery--and I am sure you will pardon me if I quote them correctly.
In 1932 the American farmers' net income was only two and a quarter billion dollars.
In 1940--a year before we were attacked--farm income was more than doubled to five and a half billion dollars.
This year--1944--it will be approximately thirteen and a half billion dollars.
Certainly the American farmer does not want to go back to a Government owned by the moguls of 1929--and let us bear it constantly in mind that those same moguls still control the destinies of the Republican Party.
We must continue this Administration's policy of conserving the enormous gifts with which an abundant Providence has blessed our country--our soil, our forests, our water.
The work of the Tennessee Valley Authority is closely
related to our national farm program, and we look toward the similar developments which I have recommended in the valley of the Missouri--in the valley of the Arkansas--and in the Columbia River Basin.
And accidentally--and as an aside--I cannot resist the temptation to point to the gigantic contribution to our war effort made by the power generated at TVA and Bonneville and Grand Coulee.
Do you remember when the building of these great public works was ridiculed as New Deal "boondoggling"? And we are now planning developments at Grand Coulee, which will provide irrigation for many thousands of acres--providing fertile firm land for settlement--I hope--by many of our returning soldiers and sailors.
This Administration has put into the law of the land the farmers' long dream of parity prices.
And we propose, too, that the Government will cooperate when the weather will not--by a genuine crop insurance program.
This Administration adopted--and will continue--the policy of giving so many farmers as possible the chance of owning their own farms.
That means something to those veterans who left their farms to fight for their country.
This time they can grow apples on their own farms instead of having to sell apples on street corners.
I believe in free enterprise--and always have.
I believe in the profit system--and always have.
I believe that private enterprise can give full employment to our people.
And if anyone feels that my faith in our ability to provide sixty million peacetime jobs is fantastic, let him remember that some people said the same thing about my demand in 1940 for fifty thousand airplanes.
I believe in exceptional rewards for innovation, skill, and risk-taking by business.
We shall lift production and price control as soon as they are no longer needed--encouraging private business to produce more of the things to which we are accustomed and also thousands of new things, in ever-increasing volume, under conditions of free and open competition.
This Administration has been mindful from its earliest days, and will continue to be mindful, of the problems of small business as well as large.
Small business played a magnificent part in producing thousands of items needed for our Armed Forces. When the war broke out, it was mobilized into war production. Money was loaned to them for machinery. Over one million prime and subcontracts have been distributed among sixty thousand smaller plants of the Nation.
We shall make sure that small business is given every facility to buy Government-owned plants, equipment and inventories. The special credit and capital requirements of small business will be met.
And small business will continue to be protected from selfish and cold-blooded monopolies and cartels. Beware of that profound enemy of the free enterprise system who pays lip-service to free competition--but also labels every antitrust prosecution as a "persecution."
This war has demonstrated that when the American business man and the American worker and the American farmer work together, they form an unbeatable team.
We know that--our Allies know that--and so do our enemies.
That winning team must keep together after the war, and it will win many more historic victories of peace for our country, and for the cause of security and decent standards of living throughout the world.
We owe it to our fighting men and to their families--we owe it to all of our people who have given so much in this war--we owe it to our children--to keep that winning team together.
The future of America, like its past, must be made by deeds--not words.
America has always been a land of action--a land of adventurous pioneering--a land of growing and building:
America must always be such a land.
The creed of our democracy is that liberty is acquired and kept by men and women who are strong and self-reliant, and possessed of such wisdom as God gives to mankind--men and women who are just, and understanding, and generous to others--men and women who are capable of disciplining themselves.
For they are the rulers and they must rule themselves.
I believe in our democratic faith and in the future of our country which has given eternal strength and vitality to that faith.
Here in Chicago you know a lot about that vitality.
And as I say good-night to you, I say it in a spirit of faith--a spirit of hope--a spirit of confidence.
We are not going to turn back the clock!
We are going forward--and--with the fighting millions of our fellow countrymen--we are going forward together.
Today's SCOTUS decision reminds me:
- The pendulum swings.
- There is nothing new in this world.
- We continue kidding ourselves believing that Justices appointed to the Supreme Court will never change, will never deviate from their stated beliefs.
- My dear departed Grandfather, my dear departed Father and my dear departed Mother were right when they reflected upon what Roosevelt actually created in making Social Security.
- They continue to be right.
- "Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong-these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history."
Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965), Speech, House of Commons, May 2, 1935
- "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905
- God Bless and Help America.
And they justified that in court by lying about what it was also.
Brilliant socialist addictive opioid. Even many freepers here are addicted and defend it to the end, even if it is funded by worthless IOUs paid by floating US treasury debt that only the Federal reserve will buy.
And even Republicans are terrified to admit it is bankrupt.
Well Obama is going forward too, catchy phrase.
unfortunately this going Forward nonsense is screwing with my family and our plans for moving up instead we are going down and in a few years you will find us in the Rice Pattys forging for food but don't worry we will have paid our tax so our comrades can have health care even though once all of our monthly taxes and debts have been paid there is no money left for our own health care..
Obama and friends have learned history well enough to shove it down our throats.
The following link is to an old FR thread, about an even older conservative booklet called “The Revolution Was”, written in 1938 about FDR and the New Deal. It is ALL happening again. An excerpt:
PROBLEM SIX THE DOMESTICATION OF THE INDIVIDUAL
This was not a specific problem. It was rather a line of principle to which the solution of every other probem was referred.....But it was as if in every ease the question was, “Which course of action will tend more to increase the dependence of the individual upon the Federal government?” and as if invariably the action resolved upon was that which would appeal rather to the weakness than to the strength of the individual.....
...was only one more way of saying a hard truth that was implicit in the American way of thinking, namely, that when people support the government they control government, but when the government supports the people it will control them.
Well, what could be done with a people like that? The answer was propaganda. The unique American tradition of individualism was systematically attacked by propaganda in three ways, as follows:
Firstly, by attack that was direct, save only for the fact that the word individualism was qualified by the uncouth adjective rugged; and rugged individualism was made the symbol of such hateful human qualities as greed, utter selfishness, and ruthless disregard of the sufferings and hardships of one’s neighbors;
Secondly, by suggestion that in the modern environment the individual, through no fault or weakness of hie own, had become helpless and was no longer able to cope with the adversities of circumstances.....
Thirdly, true to the technic of revolutionary propaganda, which is to offer positive substitute symbols, there was held out to the people in place of all the old symbols of individualism the one great new symbol of SECURITY.....
In the welfare state the government undertakes to see to it that the individual shall be housed and clothed and fed according to a statistical social standard, and that he shall be properly employed and entertained, and in consideration for this security the individual accepts in place of entire freedom a status and a number and submits his life to be minded and directed by an all-responsible government.
From a historical perspective, Social Security is not as bad as the damage
Obama has done in the past four years, the damage Obama will do in the next
four years and what SCOTUS did today.
Hopefully in a few more generations, Americans will finally get the message.
Thanks for the link, 21twelve!
Too much whining today over the SCOTUS decision, which was not a win for Dems either.
Obama didn't get Obama-care into law with a SCOTUS ruling, he won an election 2008 (Pelosi two elections 2006 and 2008) and then got his congress to pass it into law with votes both Houses.
So why should the cowardly Republican party demand and expect that the SCOTUS do their work for them and repeal it? That is their freakin job.
Jeeze, I can only take SO much drama.
It is good to hear that one person is happy today. May your happiness last.
I will never be happy with these two political parties however I refuse to join this pity party that only makes Dems cheer and forget their own problems.
So Roberts didnt rule with Scalia the way we would like, so what? Boo-hoo-hoo??? I don't see where Obama’s nominees would be any better than Romney's, nor Romney's better than GWB’s.
All of that is interesting, but you didn’t go back far enough. To understand how we got to where we are today, you have to back to secession. The Confederate States saw this coming and THIS is why they seceded.
Which reminds me, anybody know where that Southernphobe @ssclown non-sequitur and his “infallible” Supreme Court is?
” Obama didn’t get Obama-care into law with a SCOTUS ruling, he won an election 2008 (Pelosi two elections 2006 and 2008) and then got his congress to pass it into law with votes both Houses.
So why should the cowardly Republican party demand and expect that the SCOTUS do their work for them and repeal it? That is their freakin job.”
True, but the ruling is an abomination. Roberts actually changed the rules, so he could vote against it. That I would expect from Reid, or Pelosi. Obamacare is a SCAM made up of financial lies, bought off governors, and cooked books. A private citizen would go to jail for doing this in the private sector.