“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 for the united States an economic structure of vastly greater soundness.”
—Franklin D. Roosevelt, August 14, 1935
Today I hosted an event celebrating the 77th anniversary of the signing of the Social Security Act at a crowded Carpenter's local union hall in Huntington. Medicare and Medicaid hit their 47th anniversary a couple weeks back on July 30.
Congressman Nick Joe Rahall attended the event. A strong supporter of all three programs, Rahall said
"... Social Security is a fortress of reliability. It has never missed a payment. Every dollar and benefit has been paid out on time and in full - how many 401-ks can tout that same record? Social security and Medicare are not the cause of our current budgetary woes and they should not be used as a piggy bank for unrelated spending, especially paying for more tax cuts for millionaires."WV's senior senator Jay Rockefeller was not able to attend but sent a specially made video for the event, saying,
"I am so glad West Virginians from across the state are joining together to celebrate this important day in history. Seventy-seven years ago, on August 14, 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed a landmark piece of legislation creating our nation’s Social Security program. It is a program that protects so many West Virginians and has lifted millions of people out of poverty. Social Security was created during the Great Depression, a crucial time in our nation’s history. And, since then, it has provided life-saving benefits to widows, the children of deceased workers, people who are disabled, and the elderly. Social Security has proven to be one of our nation’s most successful programs, serving 451,000 West Virginians – including 41,000 children where one or both parents are deceased, disabled, or retired – and more than 50 million Americans each year. It is something we should all celebrate.”
Today's celebration took on a special significance in light of presidential candidate Mitt Romney's selection of congressman Paul Ryan as running mate. Ryan was an architect of President Bush's failed effort to privatize Social Security and has crafted similar or worse plans for Medicare and Medicaid.
Things are going to get interesting, alas.