U.S. Presidents’ Take on Social Security

In Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen wrote, “people always live for ever when there is an annuity to be paid them.”

Rachel Maddow said, “Social security isn’t a ponzi scheme. It’s not bankrupting us. It’s not an outrage. It is working.”

Fact or fiction, after writing a “history lesson of Social Security” for my Sunday Newsletter, I set out to learn the views our past Presidents. The following come from the official Social Security website, starting with the earliest Presidents and working our way up to, but not including, Obama.  

Franklin Delano Roosevelt:  “This law represents a cornerstone in a structure which is being built but is by no means completed–a structure intended to lessen the force of possible future depressions, to act as a protection to future administrations of the Government against the necessity of going deeply into debt to furnish relief to the needy–a law to flatten out the peaks and valleys of deflation and of inflation–in other words, a law that will take care of human needs and at the same time provide for the United States an economic structure of vastly greater soundness.” -August 14, 1935

Harry S. Truman: “It has long been recognized as an inescapable obligation of a democratic society to provide for every individual some measure of basic protection from hardship and want caused by factors beyond his control. In our own country, the obligation of the Federal Government in this respect has been recognized by the establishment of our Social Security system. . . . The passage of the Social Security Act in 1935 marked a great advance in our concept of the means by which our citizens, through their Government, can provide against common economic risks. . .” -May 24, 1948

Dwight David Eisenhower: “The system is not intended as a substitute for private savings, pension plans, and insurance protection. It is, rather, intended as the foundation upon which these other forms of protection can be soundly built. Thus, the individual’s own work, his planning and his thrift will bring him a higher standard of living upon his retirement, or his family a higher standard of living in the event of his death, than would otherwise be the case. Hence the system both encourages thrift and self-reliance, and helps to prevent destitution in our national life.” -January 14, 1954

Lyndon Baines Johnson: “Thirty years ago, the American people made a basic decision that the later years of life should not be years of despondency and drift. The result was enactment of our Social Security program. . . . Since World War II, there has been increasing awareness of the fact that the full value of Social Security would not be realized unless provision were made to deal with the problem of costs of illnesses among our older citizens. . . . Compassion and reason dictate that this logical extension of our proven Social Security system will supply the prudent, feasible, and dignified way to free the aged from the fear of financial hardship in the event of illness.”
-January 7, 1965

Richard Milhous Nixon: “This Nation must not break faith with those Americans who have a right to expect that Social Security payments will protect them and their families. . . . In the 34 years since the Social Security program was first established, it has become a central part of life for a growing number of Americans. . . . Almost all Americans have a stake in the soundness of the Social Security system.” -September 25, 1969

Gerald Rudolph Ford: “The fortieth anniversary of the Social Security Act celebrates an important milestone in responsible public service. I continue to be impressed by the steady responsiveness of the Social Security program to the changing needs of our people. . . . I warmly commend the employees of the Social Security Administration whose efforts are such a positive influence on the lives of countless fellow citizens.” -August 9, 1975

Jimmy Carter: “The Social Security program is a pact between workers and their employers that they will contribute to a common fund to ensure that those who are no longer part of the work force will have a basic income on which to live. It represents our commitment as a society to the belief that workers should not live in dread that a disability, death, or old age could leave them or their families destitute.” – December 20, 1977

Ronald Wilson Reagan: “The changes in this legislation will allow Social Security to age as gracefully as all of us hope to do ourselves, without becoming an overwhelming burden on generations still to come. . . . Our elderly need no longer fear that the checks they depend on will be stopped or reduced. These amendments protect them. Americans of middle age need no longer worry whether their career-long investment will pay off. These amendments guarantee it. And younger people can feel confident that Social Security will still be around when they need it to cushion their retirement.” – April 20, 1982

Geroge H. W. Bush: “And there’s one thing I hope we will all be able to agree on. It’s about our commitments. I’m talking about Social Security. To every American out there on Social Security, to every American supporting that system today, and to everyone counting on it when they retire, we made a promise to you, and we are going to keep it.” – January 31, 1990

William Jefferson Clinton: “Today, I want to talk about Social Security and how all of us can ensure that one of the greatest achievements of this century continues to serve our people well into the next. . . . For 60 years, Social Security has meant more than an ID number on a tax form; more than a monthly check in the mail. It reflects our deepest values — our respect for our parents and our belief that all Americans deserve to retire with dignity.” — March 21, 1998

George W.Bush: “We will reform Social Security and Medicare, sparing our children from struggles we have the power to prevent.” – January 20, 2001

 

 

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One thought on “U.S. Presidents’ Take on Social Security

  1. As always, I’m glad you do the research. I helps all of us to better understand current ideas, ideals and policies. Well done.

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