FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

"Social Security Protects the Young as Much as It Does the Old"

Twenty-six years ago, in my first year in Congress, I met Thomas “Tommy the Cork” Cocoran. He was seventy-nine years old.

As a student Corcoran had earned among the highest grades ever achieved at Harvard Law School, upon graduation he clerked for Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, and in his 30s had become one of President Franklin Roosevelt s most trusted advisors. It was FDR who gave Corcoran the nickname that would stick for life – “Tommy the Cork.”

I was introduced to Mr. Corcoran by a senior member of his law firm, Jim Rowe, with whom I shared the same hometown – Butte, Montana. Because of Rowe, Corcoran had a long interest in Montana and its politicians.

He insisted I call him Tommy, and we talked for most of the morning. He wanted to visit about general matters: the Rocky Mountains in the spring time, America’s foreign obligations, the New Deal and FDR. However, this aging but spry Washington insider who was a raconteur, could recite ancient Greek, play classical piano, and sing Irish songs, all with equal grace, wanted that morning in Washington, D.C., to visit with me foremost about Social Security.

Tommy was in the White House at the retirement program’ s beginning, helped design the original act and was instrumental in convincing the U.S. Senate to vote against the 1935 version of today’s “privatization.”

Corcoran shared with me his memories of the meetings with President Roosevelt as they and others developed the outline of the nation’s public retirement program. He told me something about an important but little known purpose of Social Security.

“Social Security,” he said, ” protects the young as much as it does the old.” He related how FDR would talk privately and persuasively about how important it was to unshackle young working families from the then crushing financial burden of assuming the entire support of their retired parents and grandparents. Prior to Social Security’s assurance of at least a supplemental retirement for older Americans, most of America’s seniors relied on their grown children, who were already struggling to make ends meet.
Corcoran said that although President Roosevelt spoke publicly about the need to financially secure the later years of seniors, a parallel reason for his push to pass Social Security was to protect the meager incomes of young working-age families.

Most Americans know that prior to Social Security most elderly Americans lived near or below poverty.

What is not as clear in our national memory is that far too many young working families were also poor, in part because they had to assume the entire financial burden of their parents and grandparents.
Here in the three states of the Northern Rockies live 987,000 citizens between the ages of 30 and 55. That prime working age population makes up approximately 37% of the population of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.

Without Social Security the financial well-being of those hundreds of thousands of people, those families, would be far less secure than it is today.

An astonishing $312 million dollars in Social Security benefits roll into our three states each and every month. Think about the spending boom created by those millions. But perhaps more important, imagine the overwhelming burden on our working families if those Social Security dollars did not exist to assist the elderly in paying their own way.

PAT WILLIAMS served nine terms as a U.S. Representative from Montana. After his retirement, he returned to Montana and is teaching at The University of Montana where he also serves as a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Rocky Mountain West

 

More articles by:

Pat Williams served 18 years as Montana’s Congressman. He now lives in Missoula where he teaches at the University of Montana.

August 10, 2020
Gerald Sussman
Biden’s Ukrainegate Problem
Vijay Prashad – Érika Ortega Sanoja
How the U.S. Failed at Its Foreign Policy Toward Venezuela
Daniel Warner
Geneva: The Home of Lost Causes
Mike Hastie
The Police Force Stampede in Portland on August 8, 2020 
Jack Rasmus
Trump’s Executive Orders: EOs as PR and FUs
Rev. William Alberts
Cognitive Without Conscience
David Altheide
Politicizing Fear Through the News Media
F. Douglas Stephenson
Is Big Pharma More Interested in Profiteering Than Protecting Us From Coronavirus?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Money Plague
Howard Lisnoff
Revolutionaries Living in a System of Growing Fascism
Ralph Nader
Donald Trump is Defeating Himself
Lynnette Grey Bull
The Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women Human Rights Emergency is Not a Photo-Op for Ivanka Trump
Victor Grossman
Some Come, Others Go
Binoy Kampmark
Death From the Sky: Hiroshima and Normalised Atrocities
The Stop Golden Rice Network
Why We Oppose Golden Rice
Michael D. Knox
After Nagasaki, the U.S. Did Not Choose Peace
Elliot Sperber
A Tomos 
Weekend Edition
August 07, 2020
Friday - Sunday
John Davis
The COVID Interregnum
Louis Yako
20 Postcard Notes From Iraq: With Love in the Age of COVID-19
Patrick Cockburn
War and Pandemic Journalism: the Truth Can Disappear Fast
Eve Ottenberg
Fixing the COVID Numbers
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Every Which Way to Lose
Paul Street
Trump is Not Conceding: This is Happening Here
Robert Hunziker
The World on Fire
Rob Urie
Neoliberal Centrists and the American Left
John Laforge
USAF Vet Could Face ‘20 Days for 20 Bombs’ for Protest Against US H-Bombs Stationed in Germany
Andrew Levine
Clyburn’s Complaint
Kavaljit Singh
Revisiting the Idea of Pigou Wealth Tax in the Time of Covid-19
Paul Ryder
Here Come the 1968 Mistakes Again
T.J. Coles
Fighting Over Kashmir Could Blow Up the Planet
David Macaray
Haven’t We All Known Guys Who Were Exactly like Donald Trump?
Conn Hallinan
What’s Driving the Simmering Conflict Between India and China
Joseph Natoli
American Failures: August, 2020
Ramzy Baroud
Apartheid or One State: Has Jordan Broken a Political Taboo?
Bruce Hobson
The US Left Needs Humility to Understand Mexican Politics
David Rosen
Easy Targets: Trump’s Attacks on Transgendered People
Ben Debney
The Neoliberal Virus
Evelyn Leopold
Is Netanyahu Serious About Annexing Jordan Valley?
Nicky Reid
When the Chickens Came Home to Roost In Portlandistan
Irma A. Velásquez Nimatuj
The Power of the White Man and His Symbols is Being De-Mystified
Kathy Kelly
Reversal: Boeing’s Flow of Blood
Brian Kelly
Ireland and Slavery: Framing Irish Complicity in the Slave Trade
Ariela Ruiz Caro
South American Nations Adopt Different COVID-19 Stategies, With Different Results
Ron Jacobs
Exorcism at Boston’s Old West Church, All Hallows Eve 1971
J.P. Linstroth
Bolsonaro’s Continuous Follies
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail