Social security forms the largest of programs in the U.S government and, in terms of dollars is considered the leading in the world. Since its conception and signing into law by former president Roosevelt, in his New Deal in1935, it has proved successful in saving the old, needy, and disabled among others out of poverty. It forms the greatest single spending by the federal government in budget and surpasses the allocation for defense, as well as that of Medicare, no wonder it is estimated to keep about 40% of those aged 65 and over from poverty. Social security is also estimated to constitute 37% of the government’s expenditure, taking a share of about 7% of the U.S gross domestic product. It is therefore quite clear that social security forms an integral part of the federal government development agenda (Sahadi, 2007, pp. 1).
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Social security is a term used to refer to insurance made for those with disabilities, survivors, old age, among others. In the U.S, it refers to the federal insurance offered to various groups with supplementary needs. These may include, Health Insurance for state children (SCHIP), Medical assistance in form of grants for the states (Medicaid) Unemployment benefits, temporal assistance given to needy families, disability insurance, among others. This paper will investigate the concept of social security according to Roosevelt, asses its viability in the next 20-30 years, and give recommendations as well as how they could be implemented (Achenbaum, 1986, pp. 25-26).
Concept of Social Security according to Roosevelt
The act was drafted and implemented during the first term of former U.S president, Roosevelt. Congress passed it as a component of a New Deal. The president saw it as a means to minimize dangers in the U.S modern life and entailed incentives for those in unemployment, old age, widows and orphans among others. He signed it on August 14; of the year, 1935.This made him the first president in history of America and the world, to give the elderly protection. Roosevelt argued that, this would create employment for the youth, as the elderly would retire early. Some of the controversies it entailed are the fact that it was not available for most minorities and women, reflecting on only the whites of male category in the program. Besides, other categories of jobs like social workers, and nurses among others were also excluded from the program. This went on amidst protest from NAACP, as this amounted to discrimination, and the worst affected were Negroes. Another controversy in Roosevelt’s deal was its discriminative sense, for instance, Aid that was given to Dependent Children through the states were predominantly given to whites more than blacks, even when they both qualified (Achenbaum, 1986, pp. 25-26).
Its viability in the next 20-30 years
Implementation of social security fund was followed by economic concerns with recession in the year 1937. U.S economy was also raising concern with decline in government expenditure. This prompted amendments on the act, changing it into a trust fund, so that options to invest the money were opened. Expansion concerns were also among the worries, as the population to receive it increased gradually, for example, as compared to a mere $35 million allocated, a massive amount of about $650 would be required in 2009. During 1950s and sixties, the act was popular, but its potential outlook faded from1970s when the rapid amendments implied future financial deficits, it prompted increases in tax and reduction on benefits. Its long-term fiscal structure was becoming more problematic with the number of elderly increasing more than workers do. The system, which works on pay-as-you-go scheme, has raised various concerns over its viability in the next 20-30 years, which greatly depend on the program. Declining ratio of the employed to elderly, reluctance to investing and savings, cost of inflation are among the concerns it faces in the coming periods (Sahadi, 2007, pp. 1).
Social security programs have been of notable help to the needy, the aged and all other beneficiaries; it provides incentives for those who retire and saves many people from poverty. Several reforms have been made on it to serve needs of the population without going into insolvency. This has ensured, that the American people maintain their standards of living. However, much should be done to avert a potential insolvency that could culminate if the ratio of the working to those retired falls further.
Recommendations and their implementation
One possible recommendation is to increase tax rates to counter decline in ratio of workers to the retired elderly, but this has been done and the public will not receive a further raise on tax kindly. Alternatively, with a surety of increased incentive, it could work. Another proposal in reforming the program would be to develop individual accounts with plans to increase tax and invest it on behalf of the individual, as this will increase social security payments thus adding further incentives to the population. Moreover, Privatization of the program would be beneficial if implemented, as the tax on social security will be channeled into a binding independently run retirement accounts (South-Western college, 2002, pp. 1)
- Achenbaum, A. (1986). Social Security Visions and Revisions. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 25-26
- Sahadi, J. (2007). Shrinking Social Security. CNNMoney. Web.
- South-Western college. (2002). Policy Debate: Will Social Security survive into the 21st century. Economics Resource Center. South-Western College Publishing.