Social Security (United States)

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In the United States, Social Security is primarily the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) federal program. The original Social Security Act was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935, and the current version of the Act, as amended, encompasses several social welfare and social insurance programs.


  • Now, Social Security through the years, for many many people, has been a terrible investment. It's really a tax, that's all it is. Social Security is a tax.
    • Todd Aken, Washington Minute, CSPAN, 2011-03-19, quoted in Seitz-Wald, Alex (19 March 2011), "GOP Rep. Todd Akin On Social Security: ‘I Don’t Like It’", Think Progress


  • For our seniors, Social Security is a sacred obligation, a sacred promise made. The current president is threatening to break that promise. He's proposing to eliminate the tax that pays for almost half of Social Security without any way of making up for that lost revenue. I will not let it happen. If I'm your president, we're going to protect Social Security and Medicare. You have my word.
  • You know, my dad used to have an expression. He said: "Joey, don't tell me what you value. Show me your budget; I'll tell you what you value." And that's at the heart of this debate: What do we value? Protecting seniors. You may remember, during my State of the Union Address there were a spirited—there was a spirited exchange between me and a few Republicans spontaneously occurring on the floor of the House of Representatives. I was pointing out that, for years, some of them were putting forward proposals to cut Social Security and Medicare. And some of them that night took exception, and they said very loudly that that wasn't true. So I asked them on the House that night. I said—asked them a simple question: Will you agree not to cut Social Security and not to cut Medicare? Would they agree to protect these essential programs that are a lifeline for millions of Americans? Programs that these Americans have been paying into every single pay check they've earned since they started working and that provide so much peace of mind. With the bright lights and cameras on, those few Republicans who were protesting, they agreed. They said they wouldn't cut it. That's how we protected Social Security and Medicare from the beginning and from it being cut, period.
  • I don't know if Bernie Madoff got his idea from there, but if there's ever a Ponzi scheme, people say Madoff was the biggest? Wrong. Social Security is, far and away,
  • Well alright, anyone who has dreams of world empire, look what it did to Britain. There's a reason that whole country is one big Smith song. That's actually one exciting thing about studying history, there did come a point towards the end of the 19th century where the British were just like, "this ain't worth it mate". There's a reason why in 1945 they gave us the keys to the world. They were like, "here, it's yours, take it, go, we're fine, no? India, go. Africa, go." Because they'd had enough. Because it's really hard, we can't even run ourselves. We literally have people storming our capital with signs saying , "government, keep your hands off my social security". If we can't handle that, do we really want to try and run, Africa? I think what we need is not so much world empire, I think we need closer cooperation, closer alliances.
  • Like Thelma and Louise, Medicare and Social Security are headed for the cliff. And we are in the back seat.
  • And there's one thing I hope we will 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. We rescued the system in 1983, and it's sound again -- bipartisan arrangement. Our budget fully funds today's benefits, and it assures that future benefits will be funded as well. The last thing we need to do is mess around with Social Security.
  • Seventh, we must get the Federal deficit under control. We now have, in law, enforceable spending caps and a requirement that we pay for the programs we create. There are those in Congress who would ease that discipline now. But I cannot let them do it, and I won't. My plan would freeze all domestic discretionary budget authority, which means no more next year than this year. I will not tamper with Social Security, but I would put real caps on the growth of uncontrolled spending. And I would also freeze Federal domestic Government employment. And with the help of Congress, my plan will get rid of 246 programs that don't deserve Federal funding. Some of them have noble titles, but none of them is indispensable. We can get rid of each and every one of them.
  • Social Security has been called the third rail of American politics, the one you're not supposed to touch because it might shock you. But if you don't touch it, you cannot fix it. And I intend to fix it. To the seniors in this country, you earned your benefits, you made your plans, and President George W. Bush will keep the promise of Social Security. No changes, no reductions, no way. Our opponents will say otherwise. This is their last parting ploy, and don't believe a word of it. Now is the time—now is the time for Republicans and Democrats to end the politics of fear and save Social Security together.
  • Another priority in my budget is to keep the vital promises of Medicare and Social Security, and together we will do so. To meet the health care needs of all America's seniors, we double the Medicare budget over the next 10 years. My budget dedicates $238 billion to Medicare next year alone, enough to fund all current programs and to begin a new prescription drug benefit for low-income seniors. No senior in America should have to choose between buying food and buying prescriptions. To make sure the retirement savings of America's seniors are not diverted into any other program, my budget protects all $2.6 trillion of the Social Security surplus for Social Security and for Social Security alone.
  • We must also confront the larger challenge of mandatory spending, or entitlements. This year, the first of about 78 million baby boomers turn 60, including two of my dad's favorite people—me and President Clinton. This milestone is more than a personal crisis— it is a national challenge. The retirement of the baby boom generation will put unprecedented strains on the Federal Government. By 2030, spending for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid alone will be almost 60 percent of the entire Federal budget. And that will present future Congresses with impossible choices: staggering tax increases, immense deficits, or deep cuts in every category of spending. Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security, yet the rising cost of entitlements is a problem that is not going away. And every year we fail to act, the situation gets worse. So tonight I ask you to join me in creating a commission to examine the full impact of baby boom retirements on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. This commission should include Members of Congress of both parties and offer bipartisan solutions. We need to put aside partisan politics and work together and get this problem solved.


  • They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they're getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fuckin' years ago. They don't want that. You know what they want? They want obedient workers. Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And now they're coming for your Social Security money. They want your fuckin' retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all from you sooner or later 'cause they own this fuckin' place. It's a big club and you ain't in it. You and I are not in the big club. ...The table is tilted, folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice. ...And nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. That's what the owners count on. The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white and blue dick that's being jammed up their assholes every day, because the owners of this country know the truth. It's called the American Dream, 'cause you have to be asleep to believe it.
  • One of the highest priorities of my Administration has been to continue the tradition of effectiveness and efficiency widely associated with the social security program, and to assure present and future beneficiaries that they will receive their benefits as expected. The earned benefits that are paid monthly to retired and disabled American workers and their families provide a significant measure of economic protection to millions of people who might otherwise face retirement or possible disability with fear. I have enacted changes to improve the benefits of many social security beneficiaries during my years as President. The last four years have presented a special set of concerns over the financial stability of the social security system. Shortly after taking office I proposed and Congress enacted legislation to protect the stability of the old age and survivors trust fund and prevent the imminent exhaustion of the disability insurance trust fund, and to correct a flaw in the benefit formula that was threatening the long run health of the entire social security system. The actions taken by the Congress at my request helped stabilize the system. That legislation was later complemented by the Disability Insurance Amendments of 1980 which further bolstered the disability insurance program, and reduced certain inequities among beneficiaries. My commitment to the essential retirement and disability protection provided to 35 million people each month has been demonstrated by the fact that without interruption those beneficiaries have continued to receive their social security benefits, including annual cost of living increases. Changing and unpredictable economic circumstances require that we continue to monitor the financial stability of the social security system. To correct anticipated short-term strains on the system, I proposed last year that the three funds be allowed to borrow from one another, and I urge the Congress again this year to adopt such interfund borrowing. To further strengthen the social security system and provide a greater degree of assurance to beneficiaries, given projected future economic uncertainties, additional action should be taken. Among the additional financing options available are borrowing from the general fund, financing half of the hospital insurance fund with general revenues, and increasing the payroll tax rate. The latter option is particularly unpalatable given the significant increase in the tax rate already mandated in law. This Administration continues to oppose cuts in basic social security benefits and taxing social security benefits. The Administration continues to support annual indexing of social security benefits.
  • I'd like to give you one example. His name is Richard Dean. He's a 49-year-old Vietnam veteran who's worked for the Social Security Administration for 22 years now. Last year he was hard at work in the Federal Building in Oklahoma City when the blast killed 169 people and brought the rubble down all around him. He reentered that building four times. He saved the lives of three women. He's here with us this evening, and I want to recognize Richard and applaud both his public service and his extraordinary personal heroism. But Richard Dean's story doesn't end there. This last November, he was forced out of his office when the Government shut down. And the second time the Government shut down he continued helping Social Security recipients, but he was working without pay. On behalf of Richard Dean and his family, and all the other people who are out there working every day doing a good job for the American people, I challenge all of you in this Chamber: Let's never, ever shut the Federal Government down again. On behalf of all Americans, especially those who need their Social Security payments at the beginning of March, I also challenge the Congress to preserve the full faith and credit of the United States, to honor the obligations of this great Nation as we have for 220 years, to rise above partisanship and pass a straightforward extension of the debt limit and show people America keeps its word.
  • Our fiscal discipline gives us an unsurpassed opportunity to address a remarkable new challenge, the aging of America. With the number of elderly Americans set to double by 2030, the baby boom will become a senior boom. So first, and above all, we must save Social Security for the 21st century. Early in this century, being old meant being poor. When President Roosevelt created Social Security, thousands wrote to thank him for eliminating what one woman called "the stark terror of penniless, helpless old age." Even today, without Social Security, half our Nation's elderly would be forced into poverty. Today, Social Security is strong. But by 2013, payroll taxes will no longer be sufficient to cover monthly payments. By 2032, the Trust Fund will be exhausted and Social Security will be unable to pay the full benefits older Americans have been promised. The best way to keep Social Security a rocksolid guarantee is not to make drastic cuts in benefits, not to raise payroll tax rates, not to drain resources from Social Security in the name of saving it. Instead, I propose that we make the historic decision to invest the surplus to save Social Security. Specifically, I propose that we commit 60 percent of the budget surplus for the next 15 years to Social Security, investing a small portion in the private sector, just as any private or State Government pension would do. This will earn a higher return and keep Social Security sound for 55 years. But we must aim higher. We should put Social Security on a sound footing for the next 75 years. We should reduce poverty among elderly women, who are nearly twice as likely to be poor as our other seniors. And we should eliminate the limits on what seniors on Social Security can earn. Now, these changes will require difficult but fully achievable choices, over and above the dedication of the surplus. They must be made on a bipartisan basis. They should be made this year. So let me say to you tonight, I reach out my hand to all of you in both Houses, in both parties, and ask that we join together in saying to the American people: We will save Social Security now. Now, last year we wisely reserved all of the surplus until we knew what it would take to save Social Security. Again, I say, we shouldn't spend any of it, not any of it, until after Social Security is truly saved. First things first.
  • Guaranteeing equal pay won’t just increase paychecks for women – it will boost family budgets and get incomes rising across the board. And I don’t understand why Trump’s against that. Paid family leave won’t only make life easier for Moms and Dads – it will also keep skilled, talented Americans in the workforce and grow our economy. That’s why every other advanced country already has it. Again, he’s against it. Raising the federal minimum wage won’t just put more money in the pockets of low-income families – it also means they will spend more at the businesses in their neighborhoods. Trump’s against that as well. ... And protecting and expanding Social Security doesn't just help older Americans retire with dignity – it helps to ease burdens on families and communities. And I also believe the same thing about comprehensive immigration reform.
  • To pay tribute to those great Americans on whose shoulders we stand, we are honor-bound to keep our promise to protect Social Security. Last year, for the first time in thirty-nine years, the federal budget was balanced without dipping into the Social Security trust fund. We'll do it again this year, and we'll pay down even more of the national debt. We've already paid off 150 billion dollars in the last two years. Now, our goal is to eliminate the 3.6 trillion-dollar debt entirely in the next 15 years.
  • We're always told that we need to amnesty illegals to shore up Social Security. How, exactly, are people who make so little money that they don't pay income taxes going to save Social Security?
    • Ann Coulter, Adios, America: The Left's Plan to Turn Our Country into a Third World Hellhole (2015)
  • We speak -- We speak for young people demanding an education and a future. We speak for senior citizens. We speak for senior citizens who are terrorized by the idea that their only security, their Social Security, is being threatened. We speak for millions of reasoning people fighting to preserve our environment from greed and from stupidity. And we speak for reasonable people who are fighting to preserve our very existence from a macho intransigence that refuses to make intelligent attempts to discuss the possibility of nuclear holocaust with our enemy. They refuse. They refuse, because they believe we can pile missiles so high that they will pierce the clouds and the sight of them will frighten our enemies into submission.


  • We believe, as they do, that America's prosperity must work for all Americans. When President Bush proposes ideas that bring us closer to that goal, like his literacy initiative or increases in military pay, we will work with him, and work hard, to turn those ideas into laws. When he makes proposals with which we disagree, we'll work with him to find common ground. But when he insists on proposals that threaten the prosperity of all Americans or that harm Social Security or Medicare, we will fight, and fight hard, to put the interests of working families first.
  • Millennials are the first generation of US Americans to have life prospects worse than their parents. The astronomical student debt load means that many young people put off the major purchases and life events linked to adulthood in the US -- buying a car or a house, getting married. At the same time, in highly populated cities like San Francisco, LA, Seattle, and NYC, rents are out of control. And we don’t have national healthcare. So paying for the basics of everyday life has become impossible. And we are told repeatedly that social security is in crisis and won’t survive. As one young person told me: 'My retirement program is socialism'.
  • We have built foundations for the security of those who are faced with the hazards of unemployment and old age; for the orphaned, the crippled, and the blind. On the foundation of the Social Security Act we are determined to erect a structure of economic security for all our people, making sure that this benefit shall keep step with the ever-increasing capacity of America to provide a high standard of living for all its citizens.
  • The second thing I want to talk about is Social Security. A year ago in his State of the Union speech, the president said he was committed to saving Social Security. I'm glad to hear him discuss it again this evening. Unfortunately spending the surplus as he proposes will not save Social Security. It just temporarily props it up with extra cash. Mr. President, we're still waiting for real legislation. We've reserved H.R. 1, the very first bill of this Congress, for the president's Social Security plan. There's one thing we all can agree on—one non-negotiable principle—we must keep our contract with our senior citizens who depend on Social Security for part of all of their retirement income. This nation made that promise long ago, and we will keep that promise. But Social Security needs not just to be patched up. It needs to be updated for the 21st century. People today want and expect to have more control over their lives and over their money. But President Clinton's approach, as you've just heard, gives the government more control of your retirement income. The Social Security dollars deducted from your paycheck currently earn less than 3 percent a year. That's not enough of a return; that's not going to keep Social Security solvent; and it's especially not fair to young people and women. For example, the current system works against mothers who choose to step out of their job for a while, away from their career, to raise children or to care for parents. It works against wives, who more often than not, survive their husbands and they end up living for more years on fewer dollars. And it works against young people who believe they'll never see a Social Security check. Here's a better way. Giving working Americans the choice to invest some of their Social Security dollars in personal retirement accounts. We can do this without touching a dime in Social Security funds, without raising one nickel in taxes, and without touching one penny of current benefits. A new century requires a new beginning—in approaches, in ideas, and, yes, in civility and cooperation between political parties. I'd like to close on a personal note. I'm a mother, a gardener, a Republican and a member of Congress. Believe me, all four take patience. My boys thankfully turned out to be wonderful young men. My plants at home unfortunately need a lot of work. And as for my efforts in the Congress, I am constantly planting and watering.


  • Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.
    • Dwight D. Eisenhower in: Joe Soss, et al., Remaking America: Democracy and Public Policy in and Age of Inequality, Russell Sage Foundation, 8 November 2007, p. 149.


  • Vote to stand tall against terrorists; receive Social Security privatization. Vote to strike a blow against elitism; receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our lifetimes, in which workers have been stripped of power and CEOs are rewarded in a manner beyond imagining.
  • If you play by the rules, you deserve a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. It isn't right that, if trends continue, by the year 2000 nearly all of the poor people in America will be women and children. The rules of a decent society say: When you distribute sacrifice in times of austerity, you don't put women and children first. It isn't right that young people today fear they won't get the Social Security they paid for, and that older Americans fear that they will lose what they have already learned [earned]. Social Security is a contract between the last generation and the next, and the rules say: You don't break contracts. We are going to keep faith with older Americans. We hammered out a fair compromise in the Congress to save Social Security. Every group sacrificed to keep the system sound. It is time Ronald Reagan stopped scaring our senior citizens.
  • Now let me speak about social security. Our Federal social security system for people who have worked and contributed to it for all their lives is a vital part of our economic system. Its value is no longer debatable. In my budget for fiscal year 1977, I am recommending that the full cost-of-living increases in the social security benefits be paid during the coming year. But I am concerned about the integrity of our Social Security Trust Fund that enables people--those retired and those still working who will retire--to count on this source of retirement income. Younger workers watch their deductions rise and wonder if they will be adequately protected in the future. We must meet this challenge head on. Simple arithmetic warns all of us that the Social Security Trust Fund is headed for trouble. Unless we act soon to make sure the fund takes in as much as it pays out, there will be no security for old or for young. I must, therefore, recommend a three-tenths of 1 percent increase in both employer and employee social security taxes effective January 1, 1977. This will cost each covered employee less than 1 extra dollar a week and will ensure the integrity of the trust fund.
  • Let me take the example which is today the greatest sacred cow of them all—Social Security. Was there an overwhelming demand for Social Security in the 1930s when the law was adopted? Far from it. There was no public demand for it, it had to be sold. How was it sold? By the slickest devices of Madison Avenue, by imaginative packaging and deceptive labeling. Social Security was sold as an insurance scheme. It is not an insurance scheme. There is very little relationship to the amount of money any one individual pays and the amount of money he is entitled to receive. Social Security is a combination of a bad tax system with a bad way of distributing welfare… If you look at the tax system, who could defend a wage tax, a tax on wages up to a maximum, a tax on work, a tax which discourages employers from hiring people, and discourages people from going to work; a tax which is borne by the lowest wage group, workers? It is a regressive tax. You could never in a million Sundays… have gotten such a tax passed as a tax.


  • Our plan provides $900 billion in tax cuts for all Americans. Our plan protects every dollar of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. It strengthens Medicare and adds an affordable prescription drug benefit so seniors don't have to choose between food and medicine. It strengthens Social Security rather than subjecting it to a volatile stock market, so that it will be there, not only for the baby boomers, but for their children and their grandchildren.
  • I'll fight for a new tax-free way to help you save and build a bigger nest egg for your retirement. I'm talking about something extra that you can save and invest for yourself, something that will supplement Social Security, not be subtracted from it. But I will not go along with any proposal to strip $1 out of every $6 dollars from the Social Security Trust Fund and privatize the Social Security that you're counting on. That's Social Security minus. Our plan is Social Security plus. We will balance the budget every year and dedicate the budget surplus first to saving Social Security.


  • In the face of the COVID-19 tsunami, our lives are changing in ways that were inconceivable just a few short weeks ago. Not since the 2008–9 economic collapse has the world collectively shared an experience of this kind: a single, rapidly mutating global crisis, structuring the rhythm of our daily lives within a complex calculus of risk and competing probabilities. In response, numerous social movements have put forward demands that take seriously the potentially disastrous consequences of the virus, while also tackling the incapacity of capitalist governments to adequately address the crisis itself. These demands include questions of worker safety, the necessity of neighborhood-level organizing, income and social security, the rights of those on zero-hour contracts or in precarious employment, and the need to protect renters and those living in poverty.
  • Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal has become a conservative force in American life. In saying this, I do not intent for a moment to dismiss the enduring significance of the social and political struggles of the Thirties. The old lassez-faire myths were decisively shattered, government recognized its duty to promote full employment, Social Security was accepted as a national principle, the mass-production workers created the CIO - and this is only the beginning of a list of accomplishments of those times. The welfare state which was begun then is manifestly imperfect and often unjust. Yet it took the United States a giant stride beyond the decade of Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. Still, the Rooseveltian program did not solve the central problem of the Depression: mass unemployment.
    • Michael Harrington, Toward a Democratic Left: A Radical Program for a New Majority (1968) Ch. 2, "Adam Smith's John Maynard Keynes"
  • Eleven times the voters of the 14th District of Illinois hired me as their representative. It's been a journey that we've traveled together -- and every year brought new challenges. I am proud of so many of the things that I was able to work on over those years: working to make health care more affordable and accessible by creating tax-free health savings accounts; delivering on long-awaited prescription drug coverage for seniors while at the same time modernizing Medicare for the 21st century; passing two of the largest tax relief packages for working Americans in our nation's history, which encouraged Americans to invest and small businesses to grow and to create new jobs; and reducing the unfair social security earnings limit on our senior citizens that needed to work. And back home in Illinois, I was proud to work on environmental issues like the removal of the dangerous thorium tailings from West Chicago Illinois and preserving the vital drinking water supply of the people of the Fox Valley. But ultimately, the most important responsibility for any of us who serve this House is to provide for the defense of this nation. It's our most solemn obligation.
  • There are two main differences between Ponzi’s original scam and the Social Security system. The first difference is that Social Security is run by the government and, whatever its constitutionality and its questionable ethics, is legal. The second difference follows from the first: Whereas Ponzi had to rely on suckers, the government can and does use force.
    • Quote from The Joy of Freedom: An Economist’s Odyssey by David R. Henderson, (2002), Financial Times/Prentice Hall, pp. 234-235.
  • The major driver of our long-term liabilities, everybody here knows, is Medicare and Medicaid and our health care spending.  Nothing comes close.  Social Security we could probably fix the same way Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan sat down together and they could figure something out.  That is manageable.  Medicare and Medicaid -- massive problem down the road.  That's where -- that's going to be what our children have to worry about.
  • We don't have a health care system. We have a health care maze. And we don't have a health care crisis. We have a health crisis. Eighty percent of the $2 trillion we spend on health care in this country is spent on chronic disease. If we don't change the health of this nation by focusing on prevention, we're never going to catch up with the costs no matter what plan we have. … And we've got a situation with 10,000 baby boomers a day signing up for Social Security, going into the Medicare system. And I just want to remind everybody when all the old hippies find out that they get free drugs, just wait until what that's going to cost out there.


  • Under this regime we look at Social Security. The '81 budget cuts included nine permanent Social Security benefit cuts totaling 20 billion over five years. Small businesses have suffered under Reagan tax cuts. Only 18 percent of total business tax cuts went to them; 82 percent to big businesses. Health care under Mr. Reagan has already been sharply cut. Education under Mr. Reagan has been cut 25 percent. Under Mr. Reagan there are now 9.7 million female head families. They represent 16 percent of all families. Half of all of them are poor. 70 percent of all poor children live in a house headed by a woman, where there is no man. Under Mr. Reagan, the Administration has cleaned up only 6 of 546 priority toxic waste dumps. Farmers' real net income was only about half its level in 1979.
  • Since we enacted the Social Security Act back in 1935, Congress has recognized the necessity to "make more adequate provision for aged persons . . . through maternal and child welfare . . . and public health." Those are the words of the Congress--"more adequate." The time has come, I think, to make it more adequate. I believe we should increase social security benefits, and I am so recommending tonight. I am suggesting that there should be an overall increase in benefits of at least 13 percent. Those who receive only the minimum of $55 should get $80 a month.


  • To a degree, we have been attacking the problem by increasing purchasing power through higher wage scales and increased Social Security benefits. But these measures are exercised with restraint and come only as a consequence of organized struggles...Those at the lowest economic level, the poor white, the Negro, the aged, are traditionally unorganized and have little or no ability to force a growth in their consumer potential. They stagnate or become even poorer in relation to the larger society.
  • By 1980, the work of Feldstein, Boskin, Summers, and others had convinced many economists that U.S. taxes were in fact a significant obstacle to investment. Nor was this all: another major U.S. policy, the Social Security system, was also discouraging saving and investment.
  • While some fantasize about being "masters of the universe," there are 45 million Americans without health insurance. Corporations are reneging on pension obligations. Social Security is under attack. We are headed towards a $400 billion annual budget deficit, a $600 billion trade deficit, an $8 trillion national debt. The cost of the war in Iraq is over $200 billion. While we build new bases in Iraq, we close them in the United States. Earth to Washington, D.C. Earth to Washington, D.C. D.C., call home.


  • New Deal liberalism broke with progressivism in many if not most respects. Progressives wanted technocratic economic planning. By the 1940s, New Dealers dropped planning for Keynesianism. Most progressives were nativists who supported immigration restriction on ethnic or cultural grounds. New Deal liberals celebrated the melting pot and liberalized American immigration laws in the 1960s. Woodrow Wilson resegegrated Washington. Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. Franklin D. Roosevelt created Social Security and Johnson created Medicare. Wilson opposed national health insurance.
  • The big interests realize Roosevelt's plan would not cost them anything, which is the same as saying it will be no relief to the poor. Here is the proof of that admission from the financial page of the New York Times of January 18, 1935: The action of the stock markets yesterday indicated that Wall Street was not alarmed by the President's message to Congress on social security legislation. The financial community had been hopeful that the plan would not be so ambitious as to retard recovery. By its freedom from liquidation, when the message appeared on the news tickers, the market indicated that Wall Street did not feel that the plan would increase taxation unduly, since it would be largely self-sustaining. What Wall Street is saying by this dispatch is that the big men of Wall Street were a little bit apprehensive for fear Roosevelt would provide some relief or social legislation that would cost them something, but they are glad to see whatever he does will be self-sustaining. That is, the poor people who get relief will pay for it. In other words, the poor people will be allowed to help the poor people, a poor wage earner will be allowed to help his aged father or mother and take away a little more from his wife and children. "Ain't" that grand? Yet Wall Street says they are much pleased with it because it means they will not be touched for the necessary money to cure the ills of our people.


  • As part of Social Security reform, I believe that private savings accounts are a part of it -- along the lines that President Bush proposed.
  • One last word to those who voted for Mr. Reagan. I know what you were saying. But I also know what you were not saying. You did not vote for a $200 billion deficit. You did not vote for an arms race. You did not vote to turn the heavens into a battleground. You did not vote to savage Social Security and Medicare. You did not vote to destroy family farming. You did not vote to trash the civil rights laws. You did not vote to poison the environment. You did not vote to assault the poor, the sick, and the disabled. And you did not vote to pay fifty bucks for a fifty-cent light bulb. Four years ago, many of you voted for Mr. Reagan because he promised you'd be better off. And today, the rich are better off. But working Americans are worse off, and the middle class is standing on a trap door.


  • America's business leaders said NO to the idea of revolting against the British monarchy. ...In later decades, commercialists... consistently said NO to efforts to end child labor... to starting labor unions... to the regulation of railroad and banking abuses... to the 40-hour work week and progressive taxation... to antitrust laws and the regulatory agencies... to a woman's right to vote (they feared the women's vote against exploiting child labor and cheating consumers), and NO to the minimum wage, Social Security, universal healthcare, and to... protect the environment, empower consumers, reduce government secrecy, protect ethical whistleblowers, and... to reduce commercial fraud on the government as with Medicare and military contracts.
  • For years, I’ve been documenting how many of the senior Democrats are complicit in war crimes, how they belong in prison. But we are now in an emergency situation in which there is a huge, fundamental difference between the Democrats and the Republicans at this moment. The Republicans would abolish democracy. They’re looking — because that’s the only way they can perpetuate their power. They have a minority of the votes. They have to rig the system so they can stay in power, as their minority of votes diminishes over time.... And there are many good Democratic candidates in this election, people who, in one way or another, will represent a breakthrough for social justice, who all have essentially pledged to support Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare, Medicaid, when the Republicans would abolish it. But also, many of these, or a substantial number of these, Democrats are arguably war criminals — not as big as the war criminals on the Republican side, but still war criminals. And they belong in prison.
  • And we've had four more years pass where the age cohort that is most Democratic and most pro-statist, are those people who turned 21 years of age between 1932 and 1952--Great Depression, New Deal, World War II--Social Security, the draft--all that stuff. That age cohort is now between the ages of 70 and 90 years old, and every year 2 million of them die. So 8 million people from that age cohort have passed away since the last election; that means, net, maybe 1 million Democrats have disappeared--and even the Republicans in that age group. [...] You know, some Bismarck, German thing, okay? Very un-American. Very unusual for America. The reaction to Great Depression, World War II, and so on: Centralization--not as much centralization as the rest of the world got, but much more than is usual in America. We've spent a lot of time dismantling some of that and moving away from that level of regimentation: getting rid of the draft.


  • We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss or a sudden illness or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.
  • This has always been the history of our progress. In 1935, when over half of our seniors could not support themselves and millions had seen their savings wiped away, there were those who argued that Social Security would lead to socialism, but the men and women of Congress stood fast, and we are all the better for it. In 1965, when some argued that Medicare represented a Government takeover of health care, Members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, did not back down. They joined together so that all of us could enter our golden years with some basic peace of mind.
  • Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze Government spending for 3 years. Spending related to our national security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will not be affected. But all other discretionary Government programs will. Like any cash-strapped family, we will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrifice what we don't. And if I have to enforce this discipline by veto, I will. We will continue to go through the budget, line by line, page by page, to eliminate programs that we can't afford and don't work. We've already identified $20 billion in savings for next year. To help working families, we'll extend our middle class tax cuts. But at a time of record deficits, we will not continue tax cuts for oil companies, for investment fund managers, and for those making over $250,000 a year. We just can't afford it. Now, even after paying for what we spent on my watch, we'll still face the massive deficit we had when I took office. More importantly, the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will continue to skyrocket. That's why I've called for a bipartisan fiscal commission, modeled on a proposal by Republican Judd Gregg and Democrat Kent Conrad. This can't be one of those Washington gimmicks that lets us pretend we solve a problem. The commission will have to provide a specific set of solutions by a certain deadline.
  • The challenge, I think, for the tea party movement is to identify specifically, what would you do? It's not enough just to say, "Get control of spending." I think it's important for you to say, you know, "I'm willing to cut veterans' benefits," or, "I'm willing to cut Medicare or Social Security benefits," or, "I'm willing to see these taxes go up."
  • How many jobs would it have cost us if past Congresses decided not to support the basic research that led to the Internet and the computer chip? What kind of country would this be if this Chamber had voted down Social Security or Medicare just because it violated some rigid idea about what government could or could not do? How many Americans would have suffered as a result?
  • But a great education isn't all we need in this new economy. We also need benefits and protections that provide a basic measure of security. It's not too much of a stretch to say that some of the only people in America who are going to work the same job, in the same place, with a health and retirement package for 30 years are sitting in this Chamber. For everyone else, especially folks in their forties and fifties, saving for retirement or bouncing back from job loss has gotten a lot tougher. Americans understand that at some point in their careers, in this new economy, they may have to retool, they may have to retrain. But they shouldn't lose what they've already worked so hard to build in the process. That's why Social Security and Medicare are more important than ever. We shouldn't weaken them, we should strengthen them. And for Americans short of retirement, basic benefits should be just as mobile as everything else is today. That, by the way, is what the Affordable Care Act is all about. It's about filling the gaps in employer-based care so that when you lose a job or you go back to school or you strike out and launch that new business, you'll still have coverage. Nearly 18 million people have gained coverage so far. And in the process, health care inflation has slowed. And our businesses have created jobs every single month since it became law.


  • We must have the clarity of vision to see the difference between what is essential and what is merely desirable, and then the courage to bring our government back under control and make it acceptable to the people. It is essential that we maintain both the forward momentum of economic growth and the strength of the safety net beneath those in society who need help. We also believe it is essential that the integrity of all aspects of Social Security are preserved. Beyond these essentials, I believe it is clear our federal government is overgrown and overweight.
  • Just 10 days ago, after months of debate and deadlock, the bipartisan Commission on Social Security accomplished the seemingly impossible. Social security, as some of us had warned for so long, faced disaster. I, myself, have been talking about this problem for almost 30 years. As 1983 began, the system stood on the brink of bankruptcy, a double victim of our economic ills. First, a decade of rampant inflation drained its reserves as we tried to protect beneficiaries from the spiraling cost of living. Then the recession and the sudden end of inflation withered the expanding wage base and increasing revenues the system needs to support the 36 million Americans who depend on it. When the Speaker of the House, the Senate majority leader, and I performed the bipartisan—or formed the bipartisan Commission on Social Security, pundits and experts predicted that party divisions and conflicting interests would prevent the Commission from agreeing on a plan to save social security. Well, sometimes, even here in Washington, the cynics are wrong. Through compromise and cooperation, the members of the Commission overcame their differences and achieved a fair, workable plan. They proved that, when it comes to the national welfare, Americans can still pull together for the common good. Tonight, I'm especially pleased to join with the Speaker and the Senate majority leader in urging the Congress to enact this plan by Easter. There are elements in it, of course, that none of us prefers, but taken together it performs a package that all of us can support. It asks for some sacrifice by all—the self-employed, beneficiaries, workers, government employees, and the better-off among the retired—but it imposes an undue burden on none. And, in supporting it, we keep an important pledge to the American people: The integrity of the social security system will be preserved, and no one's payments will be reduced. The Commission's plan will do the job; indeed, it must do the job. We owe it to today's older Americans and today's younger workers. So, before we go any further, I ask you to join with me in saluting the members of the Commission who are here tonight and Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker and Speaker Tip O'Neill for a job well done. I hope and pray the bipartisan spirit that guided you in this endeavor will inspire all of us as we face the challenges of the year ahead.
  • I want you to know that when we believe the President is on the right track, we won't let partisan interests get in the way of what's good for the country. We will be first in line to work with him. But when he gets off track, we will be there to hold him accountable. And that's why we so strongly disagree with the President's plan to privatize Social Security. Let me share with you why I believe the President's plan is so dangerous. There's a lot we can do to improve American's retirement security, but it's wrong to replace the guaranteed benefit that Americans have earned with a guaranteed benefit cut of forty percent or more. Make no mistake, that's exactly what President Bush is proposing. The Bush plan would take our already record high $4.3 trillion national debt and put us another $2 trillion in the red. That's an immoral burden to place on the backs of the next generation. But maybe most of all, the Bush plan isn't really Social Security reform. It's more like Social Security roulette. Democrats are all for giving Americans more of a say and more choices when it comes to their retirement savings. But that doesn't mean taking Social Security's guarantee and gambling with it. And that's coming from a Senator who represents Las Vegas. Sometimes important questions like Social Security or the economy or education get reduced to dollars and cents or competing policies and political parties. But really, these are questions that are about old-fashioned moral values that don't get talked about much in Washington, but matter so much to our country. Are we willing to do right by our parents and care for our children? Do we believe that big corporations with powerful lobbyists should get special favors and that the wealthiest should get special tax breaks? Or do we believe we are all God's children and that each of us should get a fair shot and each of us deserves a say in our future? Will we be able to tell young people like Devon back in Searchlight that America is still the land of the open road and that you can travel that open road to the place of your choice?
  • We believe that our kids deserve good daycare and public schools. We believe our kids deserve public schools where students can learn and teachers can teach. And we wanna believe that our parents will have a good retirement and that we will too. We Democrats believe that social security is a pact that can not be broken.
  • [A way] one could repair Social Security . . . [would be to] gradually increase the retirement age. This does have a certain logic to it: the average American's life expectancy has risen by more than ten years since Social Security was created. Increasing the retirement age by even one or two years would help get the system closer to sustainability.
    • Mitt Romney, No Apologies: The Case for American Greatness (2010), Chapter 6, pgs. 158 - 159
  • Today, a hope of many years' standing is in large part fulfilled. The civilization of the past hundred years, with its startling industrial changes, had tended more and more to make life insecure. Young people have come to wonder what will be there 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 50 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 100 percent of the population against 100 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-stricken 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.
  • Let me warn you, and let me warn the nation, against the smooth evasion that says: "Of course we believe these things. We believe in social security. We believe in work for the unemployed. We believe in saving homes. Cross our hearts and hope to die! We believe in all these things. But we do not like the way that the present administration is doing them. Just turn them over to us. We will do all of them, we will do more of them, we will do them better and, most important of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything!"
  • But his favorite attack of all is that those of us who don't agree with him, that we only care about rich people. Mr. President, I still live in the same working-class neighborhood I grew up in. My neighbors aren't millionaires; they're retirees who depend on Social Security and Medicare. They're workers who have to get up early tomorrow morning and go to work to pay the bills. They're immigrants who came here because they were stuck in poverty in the countries where the government dominated the economy. The tax increases and the deficit spending you propose will hurt middle-class families. It will cost them their raises. It will cost them their benefits. It may even cost some of them their jobs. And it will hurt seniors because it does nothing to save Medicare and Social Security. So, Mr. President, I don't oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors, hard-working middle-class Americans who don't need us to come up with a plan to grow the government. They need a plan to grow the middle class.


  • America is losing its democracy as our politicians trade their votes for campaign contributions from the corporate lobbies. We have a corporatocracy rather than a democracy... The Wall Street Journal... is the leading print mouthpiece for the corporatocracy... America’s corporatocracy is governed by vested interests rather than moral or economic principles.... Americans today by large majorities support public education, Medicare, Social Security, help for the indigent, stronger regulation of the banks, and higher taxation of the rich. The problem is... with the failure of our government to translate American values into American policies.
  • The real issue here, if you look at the Koch Brothers' agenda, is: look at what many of the extreme right-wing people believe. Obamacare is just the tip of the iceberg. These people want to abolish the concept of the minimum wage, they want to privatize the Veteran's Administration, they want to privatize Social Security, end Medicare as we know it, massive cuts in Medicaid, wipe out the EPA, you don’t have an Environmental Protection Agency anymore, Department of Energy gone, Department of Education gone. That is the agenda. And many people don’t understand that the Koch Brothers have poured hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars into the tea party and two other kinds of ancillary organizations to push this agenda.
  • Since this pandemic began, over 30 million people have lost their jobs and many have lost their health insurance. Millions of working families are wondering how they'll feed their kids and worried that they will be evicted from their homes. And how has Trump responded? Instead of maintaining the $600 a week unemployment supplement that workers were receiving, and the $1,200 emergency checks that many of you received, instead of helping small businesses—Trump concocted fraudulent executive orders that do virtually nothing to address the crisis while threatening the very future of Social Security and Medicare.
  • The reason Social Security is in big trouble is we don't have enough workers to support the retirees. Well, a third of all the young people in America are not in America today because of abortion, because one in three pregnancies end in abortion.
  • Perhaps the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will attain the enduring status of the Social Security Act or the Taft-Hartley Act; perhaps not. But this Court’s two decisions on the Act will surely be remembered through the years. The somersaults of statutory interpretation they have performed (“penalty” means tax, “further [Medicaid] payments to the State” means only incremental Medicaid payments to the State, “established by the State” means not established by the State) will be cited by litigants endlessly, to the confusion of honest jurisprudence. And the cases will publish forever the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites.
  • Nobody is entitled to someone else's money, that is the bottom line. People think they are entitled to it because they think they paid into it, nobody paid into anything, it was a fraud. Every single dollar that the gov collected in social security taxes, has already been spent, there is nothing there, there is no money, so the only money the government gets to make current payment is the money it can take from people who are still working. Its a transfer from the working poor in many cases to the retired rich. We don't have the money, I feel bad for the fact people made promises we can't keep, I feel bad for the people that invested with Bernie Madoff and lost their money, but its the same principle, its the same Ponzi scheme. We have to put an end to it, we have to find real solution to these problems because if we keep on denying that they exist and keep on spending money, we're going to destroy the value of everyone's benefits.
  • Aside from the wisdom of going to war as Bush wants, I am troubled by who pays for his capricious adventure into world domination. The administration admits to a cost of around $200 billion! Now, wealthy individuals won't pay. They've got big tax cuts already. Corporations won't pay. They'll cook the books and move overseas and then send their contributions to the Republicans. Rich kids won't pay. Their daddies will get them deferments as Big George did for George W. Well then, who will pay? School kids will pay. There'll be no money to keep them from being left behind -- way behind. Seniors will pay. They'll pay big time as the Republicans privatize Social Security and rob the Trust Fund to pay for the capricious war. Medicare will be curtailed and drugs will be more unaffordable. And there won't be any money for a drug benefit because Bush will spend it all on the war. Working folks will pay through loss of job security and bargaining rights. Our grandchildren will pay through the degradation of our air and water quality. And the entire nation will pay as Bush continues to destroy civil rights, women's rights and religious freedom in a rush to phony patriotism and to courting the messianic Pharisees of the religious right.
    • Pete Stark, Statement on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, October 8, 2002, in opposition to the resolution authorizing military force against Iraq
  • There also is a reason labor unions are flourishing among people who work for government. No matter how much these public sector unions drive up costs, government agencies do not go out of business. They simply go back to the taxpayers for more money. Consumers in the private sector have the option of buying products and services from competing, nonunion companies — from Toyota instead of General Motors, for example, even though most Toyotas sold in America are made in America. Consumers of other products can buy things made in nonunion factories overseas. But government agencies are monopolies. You cannot get your Social Security checks from anywhere except the Social Security Administration or your driver’s license from anywhere but the DMV. Is it surprising that government employees have seen their pay go up, even during the downturn, and their pensions rise to levels undreamed of in the private sector?


  • Not surprisingly, the insurance lobby recoils in horror at the prospect of automatic coverage ( including, when it was first proposed, Social Security), no matter how efficient it may be. Automatic coverage eliminates sales commissions and profit.
    • Andrew Tobias, The Invisible Bankers, Everything The Insurance Industry Never Wanted You To Know (1982) p. 63-64
  • Our Social Security System should be developed into the main reliance of our people for basic protection against the economic hazards of old-age, unemployment, and illness. I earnestly hope that the Congress will complete action at this session on legislation to increase the benefits and extend the coverage of old-age and survivors' insurance. The widespread movement to provide pensions in private industry dramatizes the need for improvements in the public insurance system.
  • There are two main differences between Ponzi’s original scam and tThe 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. . ."
    • Harry S. Truman, 107—Special Message to the Congress on Social Security, May 24, 1948.
  • I have been studying the Republican Party for over 12 years at close hand in the Capital of the United States. And by this time, I have discovered where the Republicans stand on most of the major issues. Since they won't tell you themselves, I am going to tell you. They approve of the American farmer—but they are willing to help him go broke. They stand four-square for the American home—but not for housing. They are strong for labor—but they are stronger for restricting labor's rights. They favor a minimum wage—the smaller the minimum the better. They indorse educational opportunity for all—but they won't spend money for teachers or for schools. They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine—for people who can afford them. They approve of social security benefits—so much so that they took them away from almost a million people. ... They think the American standard of living is a fine thing—so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.
    • Harry S. Truman, address in Saint Paul, Minnesota at the Municipal Auditorium, October 13, 1948, in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman, 1948, Volume 4, p. 773
  • Taft explained that the great issue in this campaign is "creeping socialism." Now that is the patented trademark of the special interest lobbies. Socialism is a scare word they have hurled at every advance the people have made in the last 20 years. Socialism is what they called public power. Socialism is what they called social security. Socialism is what they called farm price supports. Socialism is what they called bank deposit insurance. Socialism is what they called the growth of free and independent labor organizations. Socialism is their name for almost anything that helps all the people. When the Republican candidate inscribes the slogan "Down With Socialism" on the banner of his "great crusade," that is really not what he means at all. What he really means is, "Down with Progress — down with Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal," and "down with Harry Truman's fair Deal." That is what he means.
  • Save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts. Have to do it. Get rid of the fraud. Get rid of the waste and abuse, but save it. People have been paying it for years. And now many of these candidates want to cut it. You save it by making the United States, by making us rich again, by taking back all of the money that's being lost.
  • I've also made an ironclad pledge to American families: We will always protect patients with preexisting conditions. And we will always protect your Medicare, and we will always protect your Social Security. Always.


  • There is a distinct force in American society which is both volatile and pivotal in its activism ... - the Middle American Radical (MAR). Their perspective does not fit readily the traditional molds of liberal and conservative ideologies. ... On some issues, MARs are likely to take a "liberal" stand, on others a "conservative" one. For example, the MAR expresses a desire for more police power. He feels that granting the police a heavier hand will help control crime, i.e., [Alabama Governor George Wallace]'s Law and Order program. However, MARs are also adamant about keeping many social reforms, often wrought by the left, such as medicare, aid to education, and social security. Often MARs feel their problems stem from the rich and the government working together to defraud the rest of the country. They blame the situation on defects in the system such as bad taxes. However, their causal analysis does not suggest what effective remedial actions they can pursue as individuals.
    • Donald I. Warren, in The Radical Center: Middle Americans and the Politics of Alienation (1976), p. 1
  • When you’re dealing with people who think that SpongeBob SquarePants is more important than social security, you have a problem.

See also