Lyndon Johnson on Social Security


War on Poverty result: Senior poverty down by all measures

Perhaps the most stunning consequence of social welfare policies over the past 50 years is the gains made against poverty among seniors, and the comparative lack of progress for children. Social Security and Medicare (and to a lesser extent Medicaid) have helped to bring the poverty rate for Americans 65 and older way down, from 28.5% in 1966 to about 9% in 2012. Even as the US population has grown by 60%, the number of seniors in poverty has fallen from 5 million to fewer than 4 million.

Yet child poverty has hardly budged in the Census data. The poverty rate was actually higher in 2012 for people high school age or younger (at 21.8%) than in 1966 (when the rate was 17.6%).

Those raw numbers may belie the progress that's been made. The introduction of food stamps, arriving nationally during the 1970s, helped to drive down rates of severe malnutrition among children. Although poverty remained, by the late 1970s severe child malnutrition and related health conditions were rare.

Source: Christian Science Monitor, "Great Society 50th Anniversary" , Jan 8, 2014

1968: raided the Trust Fund to help pay for the Vietnam War

Today, the federal government automatically puts all of the money that should be set aside for the Social Security Trust Fund into the General Fund. Raiding the Social Security Trust Fund was a precedent set in 1968 by another progressive president, Lyndon B. Johnson, to help pay for the Vietnam War. To date, the federal government has borrowed over $2 trillion from the Social Security Trust Fund to spend on other programs.

Contrary to what many Americans believe and what progressives love to say, there is no money in the Trust Fund to pay future benefits. Furthermore, the fundamentally flawed program faces a severe demographic crisis as members of the baby boom generation begin to retire. The mess we face with Social Security, a program so many are now dependent on, is yet another example of a failed progressive policy, where the potential for unintended consequences was ignored at the program's inception.

Source: Now Or Never, by Sen. Jim DeMint, p. 80-81 , Jan 10, 2012

Raise social security payments by 15%-20%

Let us insure that older Americans, and neglected Americans, share in their Nation's progress. We should raise social security payments by an overall average of 20 percent. That will add $4.1 billion to social security payments in the first year. I will recommend that each of the 23 million Americans now receiving payments get an increase of at least 15%.

I will ask that you raise the minimum payments by 59%--from $44 to $70 a month, and to guarantee a minimum benefit of $100 a month for those with a total of 25 years of coverage. We must raise the limits that retired workers can earn without losing social security income.

We must eliminate by law unjust discrimination in employment because of age. We should embark upon a major effort to provide self-help assistance to the forgotten in our midst--the American Indians and the migratory farm workers. And we should reach with the hand of understanding to help those who live in rural poverty.

Source: Pres. Johnson's 1967 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 10, 1967

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Other past presidents on Social Security: Lyndon Johnson on other issues:
Former Presidents:
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

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V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole
V.P.Walter Mondale

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Page last updated: May 01, 2015