Franklin d. Roosevelt and Social Security Act Essay

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Roosevelt and The Social Security Act Franklin Delano Roosevelt was greatly influenced by the events of The Great Depression to pass a series of legislation. His most notable legislation that he signed into law was The Social Security Act of 1933. While Roosevelt’s original version of the bill was modified in order to pass congress, he was still extremely proud of its passing. The Social. Security Act of 1933 has effected almost every working citizen since being signed into law and has had a profound social impact on our society. Much of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency was on the passing of this bill. He had enacted a similar state law while he was governor of New York. He experienced pressure to address the issue of older unemployed Americans after the great depression by supporters of Dr. Francis E. Townsend. Townsend advocated that people over 60 should be able to stop working and receive financial benefits from the federal government (Quadagno, 1984). Once Roosevelt signed the bill into law, he performed a speech for the American people. In his speech he stated, “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 protection of ill health” (American Rhetoric, 2001). In his speech, Roosevelt was able to appeal to the uncertainty of employment in order to garner support for The Social Security Act of 1933 from citizens. Of course, his speech focused only on what he believed to be beneficial for society. Roosevelt also stated, “it is a structure intended to lessen the force of possible future depressions” (American Rhetoric, 2001). This was another way in which he used the effects of The Great Depression as rationale in passing the law. He also stated in his speech, “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” (American Rhetoric, 2001). There was no question in Roosevelt’s mind that The Social Security Act was a great accomplishment for him and for the citizens of the country. Roosevelt’s original version of the bill was changed dramatically in order to be passed into law. In order to pass this bill, Franklin D. Roosevelt had to make some concessions. He wanted to pass his bill to ensure citizens had access to universal health care, old-age pensions and unemployment benefits. The largest compromise Roosevelt made in order to pass the law was that of dropping the health care portion of the bill. Kennedy states in his article that “sticking with the health provisions threatened to jeopardize the entire bill, so FDR reluctantly let them go” (Kennedy, 2010). Another concession that was made from the original bill was that some employees became exempt from all coverage, mainly farm laborers, domestic servants, and workers in companies with less than 10 employees (Kennedy, 2010). The idea of passing any New Deal legislation, mainly the Social Security Act, was important enough to Roosevelt for him to make these concessions. Not everyone was supportive of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal agenda and his passing of the Social Security Act. One of the most noted people who opposed the law was the Republican candidate for President in 1936, Alf Landon. Landon made a speech in which he highly criticized the Social Security Act. In his speech, he stated that “this was the largest tax bill in history” (""I Will Not Promise the Moon": Alf Landon Opposes the Social Security Act, 1936"). The Social Security Act and the programs under it are funded by a tax on wages. Every person who receives a paycheck sees a deduction in which the federal government takes a percentage of their check because of the passing of the Social Security Act. The bill was introduced with the intention of taking these funds and putting them