STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE SOCIAL
SECURITY ACT--AUGUST 13, 1945
In a world still it war it is well that we pause to celebrate one
of the great peacetime achievements of the American people, namely,
the enactment of the Social Security Act. It is only ten years ago
that this act became law. Yet in this brief period of time social
security has become an essential part of the American way of life.
We have a right to be proud of the progress we have already made
in this field. We have a national system of old-age and survivors
insurance under which forty million workers are insured not only
for old-age annuities but also for monthly benefits to their wives,
children, and dependent parents in case of the worker's death. Already
there are well over one million beneficiaries actually receiving
monthly checks under this insurance system.
We have a nationwide unemployment insurance system brought about
by Federal action but administered by the States, under which thirty-six
million workers are provided some protection against wage loss due
to involuntary unemployment.
We have provided Federal grants-in-aid to the States to enable
them to pay cash assistance to the needy aged, the needy blind,
and dependent children. Today two and three-quarter million men,
women, and children are receiving, this assistance. In addition,
there are other provisions of the Social Security Act which promote
child welfare and public health.
But while we have made progress we still have a long way to go
before we can truthfully say that our social security system furnished
the people of this country adequate protection. Therefore, we should
lose no time in making of our Social Security Act a more perfect
instrument for the maintenance of economic security throughout this
I expect to present to the Congress specific recommendations looking
toward this objective.
A sound system of social security requires careful consideration
and preparation. Social security worthy of the name is not a dole
or a device for giving everybody something for nothing. True social
security must consist of rights which are earned rights--guaranteed
by the law of the land. Only that kind of social security is worthy
of the men and women who have fought and are now fighting to preserve
the heritage and the future of America.
2. ANNUAL MESSAGE
TO THE CONGRESS ON THE STATE OF THE UNION--JANUARY 7, 1948
The greatest gap in our social security structure is the lack of
adequate provision for the Nation's health. We are rightly proud
of the high standards of medical care we know how to provide in
the United States. The fact is, however, that most of our people
cannot afford to pay for the care they need.
I have often and strongly urged that this condition demands a national
health program. The heart of the program must be a national system
of payment for medical care based on well-tried insurance principles.
This great Nation cannot afford to allow its citizens to suffer
needlessly from the lack of proper medical care.
Our ultimate aim must be a comprehensive insurance system to protect
all our people equally against insecurity and ill health.
3. VETO OF BILL TO EXCLUDE VENDORS
OF NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES FROM SOCIAL SECURITY COVERAGE --APRIL
To the House of Representatives:
I am returning herewith, without my approval, H.R. 5052, a bill
"To exclude certain vendors of newspapers or magazines from
certain provisions of the Social Security Act and the Internal Revenue
This bill is identical with H.R. 3997, which I declined to approve
in August, 1947.
This legislation has far greater significance than appears on the
surface. It proposes to remove the protection of the social security
law from persons now entitled to its benefits. Thus, it raises the
fundamental question of whether or not we shall maintain the integrity
of our social security system.
H.R. 5052 would remove social security protection from news vendors
who make a full-time job of selling papers and who are dependent
on that job for their livelihood. Many vendors of newspapers are
excluded even at present from coverage under the Social Security
Act because they are not employees of the publishers whose papers
they sell. But some vendors work under arrangements which make them
bona-fide employees of the publishers and, consequently, are entitled
to the benefits of the Social Security Act.
If enacted into law, this bill would make the social security rights
of these employees depend almost completely upon the form in which
their employers might choose to cast their employment contracts.
Employers desiring to avoid the payment of taxes which would be
the basis for social security benefits for their employees could
do so by the establishment of artificial legal arrangements governing
their relationships with their employees. It was this sort of manipulation
which the Supreme Court effectively outlawed in June of 1947 when
the Court unanimously declared that employment relationships under
the social security laws should be determined in the light of realities
rather than on the basis of technical legal forms. I cannot believe
that this sound principle announced by the Court should be disregarded,
as it would be by the present bill.
The principal consideration offered in support of the bill appears
to be a concern for the administrative difficulties of certain employers
in keeping the necessary records and in collecting the employee
contributions required by the social security system. In appraising
these difficulties, it should be recognized that the employers have
control over the form of the employment contracts and the methods
by which their salesmen are compensated. The salesmen are dependent
upon the employers and whatever remittances or reports arc required
for withholding and reporting purposes should be within each employer's
reach. Certainly, the difficulties involved are not so formidable
as to warrant the exclusion of these employees from coverage in
the social security system and the consequent destruction of their
benefit rights and those of their dependents.
It is said that the news vendors affected by this bill could more
appropriately be covered by the social security law as independent
contractors, when and if coverage is extended to the self-employed.
Whether that is true or not, surely they should continue to receive
the benefits to which they are now entitled until the broader coverage
is provided. It would be most inequitable to extinguish their present
rights pending a determination as to whether it is more appropriate
for them to be covered on some other basis.
In withholding my approval from H.R. 3997 list August, I expressed
my concern that such a bill would open our social security structure
to piecemeal attack and to slow undermining. That concern was well
founded. The House of Representatives has recently passed a joint
resolution which would destroy the social security coverage of several
hundred thousand additional employees. As in the case of H.R. 5052,
the joint resolution passed by the House is directed toward upsetting
the doctrine established by the Supreme Court last summer that employment
relationships should be determined on the basis of realities. The
present bill must be appraised, therefore, as but one step in a
larger process of the erosion of our social security structure.
The security and welfare of our nation demand an expression of
social security to cover the groups which are now excluded from
the program. Any step in the opposite direction can only serve to
undermine the program and destroy the confidence of our people in
the permanence of its protection against the hazards of old age,
premature death, and unemployment.
For these reasons, I am compelled to return H.R. 5052 without my
Harry S. Truman
NOTE: On April 20 the Congress passed the bill over the President's
veto. As enacted, H.R. 5052 is Public Law 492, 80th Congress (62
4. Veto of Resolution Excluding Certain
Groups From Social Security Coverage, June 14, 1948
To the House of Representatives:
I return herewith, without my approval, House Joint Resolution
296, "To maintain the status quo in respect of certain employment
taxes and social security benefits pendiing action by Congress on
extended social security coverage".
Despite representations to the contrary, sections 1 and 2 of this
resolution would exclude from the coverage of the old age and survivors
insurance and unemployment insurance systems up to 750,000 employees,
consisting of a substantial portion of the persons working as commission
salesmen, life insurance salesmen, piece workers, truck drivers,
taxicab drivers, miners, journeymen tailors, and others. In June,
1947, the Supreme Court held that these employees have been justly
and legally entitled to social security protection since the beginning
of the program in 1935. I cannot approve legislation which would
deprive many hundreds of thousands of employees, as well as their
families, of social security benefits when the need for expanding
our social insurance system is so great.
Furthermore, if enacted into law, this resolution would overturn
the present sound principle that employment relationships under
the social security laws should be determined in the light of realities
rather than on the basis of technical legal forms. In so doing,
it would make the social security rights of the employees directly
excluded, and many thousands of additional employees, depend almost
entirely upon the manner in which their employers might choose to
cast their employment arrangements. Employers desiring to avoid
the payment of taxes which would be the basis for social security
benefits for their employees could do so by the establishment of
artificial legal arrangements governing their relationship with
their employees. I cannot approve legislation which would permit
such employers at their own discretion to avoid the payment of social
security taxes and to deny social security protection to employees
and their families.
It has been represented that the issue involved in this resolution
is whether or not the legislative branch of the government shall
determine what individuals are entitled to social security protection.
This is not the issue at all. The real issue is whether the social
security coverage of many hundreds of thousands of individuals should
be left largely to the discretion of their employers. On this issue
the proper course is obvious.
The expressed purpose of the sponsors of this resolution is to exclude
from the coverage of the Social Security Act persons who have the
status of independent contractors, rather than that of employees.
But no legislation is needed to accomplish this objective. Under
present law, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, only persons who
are bonafide employees are covered by our social security system.
When all of the considerations regarding sections 1 and 2 of the
resolution are sifted, two basic facts remain unrefuted. Hundreds
of large employers are assured of an exemption from social security
taxes, while hundreds of thousands of employees and their families
are equally assuredly prevented from receiving the social security
protection which the Supreme Court in June of last year clearly
indicated was justly theirs. These two facts were minimized by the
sponsors of the resolution who would have us believe, for example,
that a travelling salesman who devotes full working time in the
service of one company and depends completely upon that company
for his livelihood is not an employee of that company but is an
independent businessman and does not need social security protection.
Instead of clarifying the distinction between independent contractors
and employees, which is a difficult legal issue in many cases, this
resolution would revive the confusion which has plagued the administration
of the Social Security Act for so many years. Benefits which are
now payable to thousands of persons would have to be withheld pending
final determination of the new and complex legal problems raised
by this resolution.
Moreover, the resolution purports to preserve the past coverage
of employees who have already made contributions under this system.
But in fact, under the terms of the Social Security Act, such coverage
would expire in a few years, and previous contributions would be
It has been asserted that it would be difficult for employers to
keep the necessary records and meet other requirements of the law
with respect to the employees affected by this resolution. This
is reminiscent of the objections made in opposition to the original
Social Security Act in 1935. If such objections had prevailed in
1935, our social security program never would have been enacted.
To allow them to prevail now would threaten the very foundation
of the system. I cannot believe that the mere convenience of employers
should be considered more important than the social security protection
of employees and their families.
It has also been urged that without this resolution some persons
would receive credit toward old age and survivors benefits for three
or four past years during which contributions were not collected.
If the elimination of these credits had been the real purpose of
the resolution, it could readily have been achieved without permanently
excluding anyone from social insurance protection.
If our social security program is to endure, it must be protected
against these piecemeal attacks. Coverage must be permanently expanded
and no employer or special group of employers should be permitted
to reverse that trend by efforts to avoid a tax burden which millions
of other employers have carried without serious inconvenience or
Section 3 of this resolution contains provisions completely unrelated
to sections 1 and 2 for additional public assistance of $5 per month
to the needy aged and blind, and $3 per month to dependent children.
These changes fall far short of the substantial improvements in
our public assistance program which I have recommended many times.
Nevertheless, I am strongly in favor of increasing the amount of
assistance payments. Were it not for the fact that the Congress
still has ample opportunity to enact such legislation before adjournment,
I would be inclined to approve the resolution in spite of my serious
objections to sections 1 and 2. Speedy action on public assistance
legislation is clearly possible. I note that section 3 of this resolution
was adopted as an amendment on the floor of the Senate, and passed
by both houses in a single afternoon: Accordingly, I am placing
this matter before the Congress in adequate time so that the public
assistance program will not suffer because of my disapproval of
At the same time, I urge again that the Congress should not be satisfied
at this session merely to improve public assistance benefits urgent
as that is. There are other equally urgent extensions and improvements
in our social security system which I have repeatedly recommended.
They are well understood and widely accepted and should be enacted
Because sections 1 and 2 of this resolution would seriously curtail
and weaken our social security system, I am compelled to return
it without my approval.
HARRY S. TRUMAN
NOTE: On June 14 the Congress passed the bill over the President's
veto. As enacted, H.J. Res. 296 is Public Law 642, 80th Congress
(62 Stat. 438).
5. ANNUAL BUDGET MESSAGE TO THE CONGRESS:FISCAL
YEAR 1950. --JANUARY 10, 1949
In the last 15 years the Federal Government has established a basic
pattern of activities in the field of social welfare, health, and
security. The national system of old-age and survivors insurance,
the system of regular grants to States for public assistance payments
to the needy aged and blind and to dependent children, the Federal-State
system of unemployment insurance, and several grant programs for
the promotion of public health and of children's welfare were established
by the Social Security Act of 1935. More recent laws established
the railroad retirement system and grants to States for the school
lunch, hospital construction, and mental health programs. Also included
in the Government's social welfare, health, and security programs
are the older system of grants to States for vocational rehabilitation,
and those Federal services directed toward the prevention of crime
and the apprehension and detention of criminals.
Under the Social Security Act, the national policy contemplated
that old-age and survivors insurance would be the primary Government
measure affording economic protection to the needy aged and dependent
children, and that unemployment compensation would provide temporary
assistance to the unemployed. Other types of social insurance were
to be added later to provided more adequate protection against major
economic hazards of our society. Public assistance was designed
as a backstop, a second line of defense, eventually to be replaced
in large measure by social insurance benefits. We have not made
progress toward this objective in the last decade. Individual benefit
payments under public assistance now are substantially higher than
under old-age and survivors insurance. They are more adequate, in
many cases, than under unemployment insurance.
Three principal steps should be taken now to strengthen and complete
the system of social insurance, and thereby to mike our governmental
programs consistent with the basic national policy in this field.
First, old-age and survivors insurance should be extended to nearly
all the 25 million gainfully employed persons not now covered; the
scale of benefits should be sharply raised; benefits should be provided
for women at an earlier age; and higher part-time earnings should
be permitted. (In addition, coverage under the unemployment compensation
system should be extended and benefits made more adequate, as indicated
in the "Labor" section of this Message.)
Second, disability insurance should be provided to protect against
loss of earnings during illness or other temporary disability, and
to assure continuing annuities to workers who become permanently
disabled and therefore unable to earn a livelihood.
Third, a comprehensive national health program should be established,
centering in a national system of medical care insurance, accompanied
by unproved services and facilities for public health and medical
These recommendations have had extended public discussion. Action
is long overdue. I am confident that the Congress will enact promptly
the legislation needed to achieve an integrated, comprehensive system
of social insurance. . . .
My recommendations contemplate raising the tax rate on presently covered employment . . . In addition, I propose that we raise the ceiling on taxable earnings, as well as extend the pay-roll tax to workers and employers not now covered. The addition of insurance coverage for medical care and disability benefits will also require some additions to the pay-roll tax rates in order that the whole social insurance system will continue to be substantially self-supporting. . . .
6. ANNUAL MESSAGE TO THE CONGRESS:
THE PRESIDENT'S ECONOMIC REPORT --JANUARY 6, 1950
In our growing economy, there can be no excuse for failure to develop
an adequate system for protecting our citizens against economic
insecurity. As we produce more, we can and should make more adequate
provision for the aged, those who cannot find work, and others in
our society who are in need.
I urge the Congress to act promptly on the recommendations I have
made for the extension and improvement of social security. We must
move rapidly toward a comprehensive social insurance system protecting
nearly all workers--including those employed in farming--and their
families against the risks of old age, unemployment, disability,
death of the family wage-earner, and illness. The costs of such
a system, when measured against the growing output of our economy,
are well within our capacity to pay.
The present programs of social security are grossly inadequate.
Because of the limited coverage of the present law, and the exhaustion
of benefits by many workers, one-third of the unemployed are now
receiving no unemployment insurance benefits, and in some areas
the proportion approaches two-thirds. Many communities provide no
public funds for the relief of jobless workers and their families.
There are also several million disabled workers, many with families
to support, who are not eligible for public insurance benefits.
In some places, they do not even receive public relief. Only 650,000
of the millions of bereaved or broken families with very low incomes
are receiving survivors insurance. Only 30 percent of the aged population
are eligible for social insurance benefits, which are so meager
that few can retire voluntarily. Needed medical care is denied to
millions of our citizens because they have no access to systematic
and adequate methods of meeting the cost.
The current inadequacy of the social insurance programs is sharply
reflected in the disproportionate load now being borne by public
assistance programs. Increasing numbers of the aged, the disabled,
and the unemployed have been forced to resort to public assistance.
This distorts the original intent of the Social Security Act that
people are entitled to security as a matter of right. The burden
of public assistance is straining the fiscal capacities of State
and local governments. While enactment of proposed social insurance
programs will alleviate this problem in the future, provision must
be made for dealing with the problem in the meantime. I therefore
urge enactment of the proposals which I submitted to the Congress
last spring for the extension and improvement of the program of
Federal grants to States for public assistance.
7. STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT UPON
SIGNING THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT AMENDMENTS --AUGUST 28, 1950
I have today approved H.R. 6000, the Social Security Act Amendments
of 1950. These amendments greatly strengthen the old-age and survivors
insurance system and the public assistance programs originally established
by the Social Security Act of 1935. The passage of this legislation
is an outstanding achievement. In this act the 81st Congress has
doubled insurance benefits and brought 10 million more persons under
old-age and survivors insurance--including those whose insurance
rights were taken away by the 80th Congress. Millions of others
will benefit from the new public assistance provisions giving help
to the disabled and to dependent children. For the first time American
citizens in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands will be covered under
both the insurance and assistance programs. In addition, veterans
of World War II will now receive wage credits for military service
in computing their insurance benefits.
This act will help a great many people right away. Three million
aged persons, widows, and orphans will receive increased insurance
benefits beginning with the month of September. A million more will
begin to receive increased payments within the next few months.
Nearly 3 million needy persons will benefit from increased Federal
aid to the States for public assistance purposes.
By making it possible for most families to obtain protection through
the contributory insurance system, and by increasing insurance benefits,
the act will ultimately reduce dependence on public charity. This
measure demonstrates our determination to achieve real economic
security for the American family. This kind of progressive, forward-looking
legislation is the best possible way to prove that our democratic
institutions can provide both freedom and security for all our citizens.
We still have much to do before our social security programs are
fully adequate. While the new act greatly increases coverage, many
more people still need to be brought into the old-age and survivors
insurance system. Expanded coverage and increased benefits in old-age
insurance should now be matched by steps to strengthen our unemployment
insurance system. At the same time, we urgently need a system of
insurance against loss of wages through temporary or permanent disability.
These and other vital improvements in our social security laws are
needed in addition to the act which I have signed today. I shall
continue to urge action on this unfinished business and I know that
the committees of Congress are now preparing to give these matters
There is one very unfortunate feature in the new law. This is the
so-called Knowland amendment, tacked on as a rider in the Senate.
It may result in undermining the safe-guards enacted by the Congress
to protect workers against loss of unemployment insurance benefits
if they refused to accept employment at substandard wages or working
conditions. This amendment has nothing whatever to do with old-age
insurance or public assistance, the main subjects of the new law.
While the other provisions of the bill were the product of thorough
consideration in the committees of both Houses, neither committee
ever had an opportunity to hold hearings on the Knowland amendment.
I trust that the Congress will reconsider this ill-advised provision
and will act promptly to remove it from the social security laws.
Both the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee
on Finance have already announced that they intend to study proposals
for further improvement in our social security pro,,rams. Members
of these committees have worked long and faithfully on the act which
I have signed today. I am confident that their future efforts will
be equally productive in advancing social security in this country.
8. LETTER TO MRS.
ELIZABETH COCHRANE ON THE NEED FOR INCREASING SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS
--JUNE 13, 1952
My Dear Mrs. Cochrane:
I want you to know that I am in complete agreement with the sentiments
you expressed in your letter to me. The present insurance payments
of the social security law are just plain inadequate, and in all
fairness to the many aged people who depend on these payments for
their very existence they must be raised as quickly as possible.
I have been well aware of this problem. In all three of the annual
messages which I sent to the Congress this past January, I stated
that the insurance payments were inadequate and that they should
be raised. I pointed out that because of the rising wage level,
the available revenues of the social security system would permit
us to increase the primary benefit rates by an average of five dollars
a month without any added cost to anyone. It seems only fair that
this adjustment in payments should be made for the benefit of those
who have already made contributions to the system. The many people
dependent on these payments as their sole source of subsistence
are certainly entitled to this additional consideration.
On May nineteenth, the Administration bill which authorized this
increase in monthly payments came up for debate in the House of
Representatives. And our Republican friends, who you and I know
are opposed to any legislation which works to the benefit of all
our people, frantically searched for some device to defeat the measure.
They saw the word "physician" in the text of the bill
and on the advice of the American Medical Association began screaming
about "socialized medicine." They raised this bogey in
connection with a provision that merely called for adequate protection
against those who might falsely claim pension benefits on the basis
of physical disabilities. This is the same kind of provision that
we have had for years in the administration of our veterans insurance
programs. However, the scare words were enough to give an excuse
to a solid bloc of Republicans, and they were able to defeat this
bill which would provide the badly needed increases in social security
This doesn't mean our efforts to bring about this increase in benefits
will stop. The House leadership has announced that this measure
will definitely be brought up for a vote again next Monday. It is
my hope that both the House and the Senate will give speedy approval
to this highly justified bill now that the scare propaganda has
been exposed for the sham it really is.
I certainly hope that this bill will be quickly enacted into law.
But I can assure you of this much. I am going to keep fighting for
this proposal, just as I have always fought for other measures that
are based upon our confidence in the ability of this country to
so manage its affairs as to bring a decent life for ill its citizens.
I want to thank you for your very kind expression of support for
the things I have stood for. One of the most gratifying aspects
of this difficult task of mine is receiving warm words of encouragement
Very sincerely yours,
HARRY S. TRUMAN
NOTE: Mrs. Cochrane's letter to the President had been picked
as representative of an older person's experience with old-age and
survivors insurance payments under existing social security statutes.
9. STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT UPON
SIGNING THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT AMENDMENTS--JULY 18, 1952
I have today signed H.R. 7800, the Social Security Act Amendments
of 1952. This is an important landmark in the progress of our social
The new law increases old-age and survivors insurance benefits
by in an average of $6 per month. The new law also makes certain
increases in the minimum benefits under the Railroad Retirement
System. These increases become effective for the month of September
and will add to the incomes of more than 4.5 million people now
drawing benefits from these insurance systems.
Both systems are further improved by increasing from $50 to $75
per month the amount which a person can earn without losing his
insurance benefit. In addition, members of the Armed Forces serving
from 1947 through 1953, will now receive the same employment credit
under the old-age and survivors insurance system that was granted
servicemen during World War II.
The new law also increases by $250 million per year, the amount
of the Federal contribution to the States for public assistance.
This will make it possible for the States to increase assistance
payments to the 5 million dependent children and aged, blind, and
disabled citizens now receiving State help to meet their minimum
financial needs. Increases will amount to about $3 per month for
dependent children, and $5 per month for the rest, provided that
the States use all the new Federal funds to increase total payments
to the needy individuals. It is hoped and expected that this will
The major features of this new law follow the recommendations which
I made to the Congress last January. The Congress is to be congratulated
for this prompt and effective action to strengthen the social security
laws and to ease the pressure of living costs for so many millions
A large share of the credit for this timely and constructive measure
is due to Chairman Doughton of the House Ways and Means Committee,
the sponsor of the great Social Security Act of 1935 and of every
major improvement in social security since that time. Chairman Doughton
has announced his retirement from the House of Representatives after
40 years of service. H.R. 7800 is his last legislative achievement
for the American people and I am sure they will join with me in
Honoring him for it.
In this new law, otherwise so generally desirable, there is one
drawback which I feel requires comment at this time. I deeply regret
that the Congress failed to take proper action to preserve the old-age
and survivors insurance rights of persons who become permanently
and totally disabled. There is a provision in the act which purports,
beginning July 1, 1953, to preserve an individual's rights in the
event of disability--but unfortunately, the act also includes a
sentence, saying that this provision shall cease to be in effect
on June 30, 1953. The net effect of this is that the provision will
expire on the day before it can go into effect. Thus, in the act
I have just signed, the Congress takes away with one hand what it
appears to give with the other.
The provision thus nullified by this extraordinary effective date
arrangement, is analogous to the waiver of premiums in private insurance
policies. This provision would permit aged persons whose disability
has forced them into early retirement to have their benefits recomputed
so that lost time due to their disability would not count against
No fair-minded individual denies the justice of such a provision.
No procedures would be involved that are not already a part of the
daily routine of scores of private life insurance companies. No
administrative methods would be required that are not already used
by any one of several Government disability programs for veterans,
railroad employees, and Government workers, including Members of
the Congress the themselves.
The way in which this provision was, in effect, defeated is such
a revealing example of how the Republicans dance when a well-heeled
lobbyist pipes a tune that I think it warrants being brought to
the particular attention of the American people in this election
The disability provision was recommended to the House of Representatives
by its Committee on Ways and Means. On May 19th, the bill was taken
up on the House floor under a motion to suspend the rules, a procedure
which permits quick action but requires a two-thirds favorable vote
to pass a bill. This procedure was agreed to because no one foresaw
any opposition to this sensible and reasonable piece of legislation.
At this point, the Washington lobbyist for the American Medical
Association got the notion that here was a chance for him to attack
what he chose to call a "socialistic" proposal. So he
sent a letter or telegram to every Member of the House. There had
been no other opposition to H.R. 7800.
There was, as Chairman Doughton stated on the floor of the House,
"no more socialized medicine in...(this provision)...than there
is frost in the sun." Yet, when the House voted on the measure,
nearly 70 percent of the Republicans were against the bill. A great
majority of the Democrats, to their credit, stood firm and voted
for the bill, but with the solid Republican opposition, they were
unable to muster the necessary two-thirds vote.
After that defeat, the bill was sent back to the Ways and Means
Committee. Then the story began to get around as to what had really
happened. A great number of Republicans apparently decided they
couldn't take the heat when they got caught, for when the bill was
again reported and again brought to the floor, only 12 percent of
the Republicans persisted in their opposition.
On this second try, the bill passed the House, on June 17th. But
the American Medical Association lobby had accomplished what it
wanted just the same. For the month's delay in the House had created
such a situation that the Senate could act before adjournment only
by dispensing with hearings. It was then the strategy of the American
Medical Association to put up a great demand to be heard on the
disability provision. Faced with the Association's insistence, the
Senate committee decided to drop this provision rather than schedule
hearings which might consume the time before adjournment and thus
lose the chance for Senate action on the bill.
The net result of the medical lobby's maneuvering was the impairment
of insurance protection for millions of disabled Americans. What
the lobby could not engineer outright, it won by delay. And be it
noted that this victory for the lobby, at the people's expense,
was accomplished by a great majority of the Republicans in the House.
They were perfectly willing to deny millions of American the benefits
provided by this bill in order to satisfy the groundless whim of
a special interest lobby--a lobby that purports to speak for, but
surely fails to represent, the great medical profession in the United
I earnestly hope that the Congress next year will override the
foolish objections of the medical lobby and put a proper disability
provision in the law.
The new law is finally adopted omits one other good provision which
was passed by the House. I refer to a section of the House bill
which would have permitted State and local government employees
who are covered by retirement systems, to hold a referendum as to
whether they wish to come under the Federal insurance program. There
is a widespread desire on the part of such employees to obtain the
protection of the insurance program. I hope the Congress will enact
this much-needed provision next year also.
In addition, I hope the Congress at that time will also consider
the entire question of further extending and liberalizing the Social
Security Act as a whole.
NOTE: As enacted, H.R. 7800 is Public Law 590, 82d Congress
(66 Stat. 767).