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.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
September 20, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Unipolar Governance of the Multipolar World
Rob Urie
Strike for the Environment, Strike for Social Justice, Strike!
Miguel Gutierrez
El Desmadre: The Colonial Roots of Anti-Mexican Violence
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Pompeo and Circumstance
Andrew Levine
Why Democrats Really Should Not All Get Along But Sometimes Must Anyway
Louis Proyect
A Rebellion for the Wild West
T.J. Coles
A Taste of Their Own Medicine: the Politicians Who Robbed Iranians and Libyans Fear the Same for Brexit Britain
H. Bruce Franklin
How We Launched Our Forever War in the Middle East
Lee Hall
Mayor Obedience Training, From the Pet Products Industry
Louis Yako
Working in America: Paychecks for Silence
Michael D. Yates
Radical Education
Jonathan Cook
Israelis Have Shown Netanyahu the Door. Can He Inflict More Damage Before He Exits?
Valerie Reynoso
The Rising Monopoly of Monsanto-Bayer
John Steppling
American Psychopathy
Ralph Nader
25 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare for the 2020 Elections
Ramzy Baroud
Apartheid Made Official: Deal of the Century is a Ploy and Annexation is the New Reality
Vincent Emanuele
Small Town Values
John Feffer
The Threat of Bolton Has Retreated, But Not the Threat of War
David Rosen
Evangelicals, Abstinence, Abortion and the Mainstreaming of Sex
Judy Rohrer
“Make ‘America’ White Again”: White Resentment Under the Obama & Trump Presidencies
John W. Whitehead
The Police State’s Language of Force
Kathleen Wallace
Noblesse the Sleaze
Farzana Versey
Why Should Kashmiris be Indian?
Nyla Ali Khan
Why Are Modi and His Cohort Paranoid About Diversity?
Shawn Fremstad
The Official U.S. Poverty Rate is Based on a Hopelessly Out-of-Date Metric
Mel Gurtov
No War for Saudi Oil!
Robert Koehler
‘I’m Afraid You Have Humans’
David Swanson
Every Peace Group and Activist Should Join Strike DC for the Earth’s Climate
Scott Owen
In Defense of Non-violent Actions in Revolutionary Times
Jesse Jackson
Can America Break Its Gun Addiction?
Priti Gulati Cox
Sidewalk Museum of Congress: Who Says Kansas is Flat?
Mohamad Shaaf
The Current Political Crisis: Its Roots in Concentrated Capital with the Resulting Concentrated Political Power
Max Moran
Revolving Door Project Probes Thiel’s White House Connection
Arshad Khan
Unhappy India
Nick Pemberton
Norman Fucking Rockwell! and 24 Other Favorite Albums
Nicky Reid
The Bigotry of ‘Hate Speech’ and Facebook Fascism
Paul Armentano
To Make Vaping Safer, Legalize Cannabis
Jill Richardson
Punching Through Bad Headlines
Jessicah Pierre
What the Felicity Huffman Scandal Says About America
John Kendall Hawkins
Draining the Swamp, From the Beginning of Time
Julian Rose
Four Funerals and a Wedding: A Brief History of the War on Humanity
Victor Grossman
Film, Music and Elections in Germany
Charles R. Larson
Review: Ahmet Altan’s “I Will Never See the World Again”
David Yearsley
Jazz is Activism
Elliot Sperber
Captains of Industry 
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail