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Aid for millions

DATE OF EVENT: Wednesday, Aug. 14, 1935

DATE PUBLISHED: Thursday, Aug. 15, 1935, in The Kansas City Times

WASHINGTON, Aug. 14 — President Roosevelt today signed into law a social security program he said would provide for the United States an “economic structure of vastly greater kindness.”

“This social security measure,” Mr. Roosevelt added, “gives at least some protection to 30 million 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.” The President spoke into sound cameras in the White House cabinet soon after his pen welded to the statute books the security program molded in studies begun more than a year ago. It was seven months going through the house and senate.

The law sets up systems of old age pensions and unemployment insurance, and special care for dependent children and mothers, and contains a huge tax program to raise the necessary funds.

About the President stood Secretary Perkins, Chairman Harrison of the senate finance committee, Chairman Doughton of the house ways and means committee, and Senator Wagner and Representative Lewis, who originally introduced security bills.

“Today, a hope of many years standing is in large part fulfilled,” said Mr. Roosevelt, at the outset of his short talk. He concluded by saying that if congress had done nothing else “in this long and arduous session … the session would be recorded as historic for all time.”

“We can never insure 100 per cent of the population against 100 per cent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life,” the president said. “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 — a structure intended to lessen the force of possible future depressions, to act as a protection to future administrations of the government against the necessity of going deeply into debt to furnish relief to the needy — a law to flatten out the peaks and valleys of deflation and of inflation.”

Before the vast law can swing into operation, President Roosevelt must name the social security board of three members to administer it. Many names have been mentioned in speculation, including Edwin A. Witte, secretary of the president’s commission which drew up the law, Jacob Billikopf, Philadelphia’s social worker and a former Kansas Citian, and Miss Josephine Roche, assistant secretary of the treasury.

Included in the law was the greatest single tax burden ever approved by Congress. The graduated system of taxation for old age and unemployment benefits will impose a total annual assessment of six per cent on employers’ payrolls after 1949, in addition to three per cent contributed by workers. It is estimated that by 1980, the national old age pension reserve fund alone will contain almost forty-six billion dollars, or eighteen billion dollars more than the present national debt.