June 3, 2010

(HR - 2893 - everybody agreed on it . . . well, mostly)

With World War 2 over, the focus was now on domestic issues. The Truman Administration sought to expand on Social Security, update it from its beginnings in 1935. America had changed in ten years and Social Security needed to keep up with the change. Everyone agreed it was a good idea. But what Truman tried to do was finish what FDR had pledged to do - make a National Healthcare plan part of the Social Security system. And that's where things began to slide off the rails.

Paul Sifton (UAW): “The principle provisions of the Old Age and Survivors Insurance Bill is now being marked up by the House Ways and Means Committee, a call for the doubling of the benefits paid to aged persons or their survivors it also calls for bringing in some twenty million persons not now covered including the farmers and the hired farm hands, and by the way the news of the Grange’s attitude is great news, I may say, to the CIO and I’m sure to the AF of L that that oldest farm organization is now raising itself in support of this idea of systematic compulsory coverage in this program. In addition to that, it calls also for establishing temporary and permanent disability benefits as systematic coverage. If there is a justification and there certainly is for unemployment compensation and there is even more justification for disability benefits because it costs more to be idle and sick than it does just to be idle. And that is certainly long overdue.”

It's interesting that during the early incarnation of Social Security, farmers and farm hands weren't considered eligible (one wonders why) for Old Age and Survivors Insurance. Benjamin Kendrick from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was adamant that expanding Social Security was a good idea but any notion of having a National Health Plan meant disaster for the country.

In this segment of the radio series America United, Paul Sifton of the UAW, Representative Andrew Biemiller (D-Wisconsin), Lloyd Halvorsen of The Grange and Kendrik discuss the various aspect of the proposed expansion in 1946.

And sixty four years later . . . .

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