Arthur J. Altmeyer
By Arthur J. Altmeyer
Presented at the Michigan Social Security Conference
Michigan State University
November 16, 1960
Several months ago at a conference at Michigan State I remarked that some time I would like to talk about Social Security in terms of "ifs". Fred Hoehler was there and took me up on my casual comment. So that's why I am on the program tonight.
I'd like to say at the outset that when we were working on Social Security and had to make these various decisions, we would have been very happy to have known that Social Security was inevitable. It really didn't seem to us inevitable at the time....quite the contrary. We sweat blood and tears in the process and had great doubt as to whether we were making the right decisions and what would happen after having made these decisions. But besides speculating about the past and defending all the wrong decisions, I hope that what I say may lead to a reappraisal of what we have today. When one realizes the considerations that were taken into account 25 years ago that do not need to be taken into account today, it is clear that we should start from where we are, not from where we were, and move on. And so I'm hoping that this more or less desultory discussion of the past will not be just thought of as interesting from the standpoint of dead history, but will have some pertinence for what the new generation, the oncoming generation, can do, should do and I'm sure will do in the years ahead.
Well, let's talk about some of these "ifs". I was saying that some people have thought Social Security was inevitable. And it was inevitable in a sense if you take a look at it from the world scene. After all, 125 countries throughout the world have Social Security programs. We wouldn't have been the only country, I'm quite sure, that would not have developed something called Social Security or s ome other name. Incidentally, as many of you know, we who worked on the program were not responsible for the name. Abe Epstein, who was director of what was known as the American Association for Social Security, probably is the one who first suggested the use of that name; and the congressmen picked it up and christened the baby Social Security. We were speaking in terms of "Economic Security" all the time that we were working on the recommendations to Congress.
But I do think that, while it was inevitable in the sense that we would have had something by way of social Security, unquestionably personalities certainly do play a very important part in the timing of action and in determining exactly what form that action takes, because there are many, many alternatives that are confronted in the construction of a Social Security program and many times it depends upon the key figures on the scene at the moment as to which fork in the road is taken. Of course the great key figure was FDR himself. And he didn't come to this scene utterly unprepared to appraise the objectives of a Social Security program. Remember that he had had experience as a state senator back in 1910 and 1911 when the first big surge of what we now call Social Security in the form of Workmen's Compensation occurred in this country. 1910-11 was another one of those periods when the conjuncture of events was such that across the country in the course of a couple of years practically all states enacted what we call Workmen's Compensation laws and FDR was state senator at that time in New York. And later on as governor at the beginning of the depression he was one of the first two governors who almost simultaneously came out for Unemployment Insurance--LaFollette of Wisconsin and FDR of New York. If you check back you will be really interested to see how labor and social legislation in these two states moved along almost identical parallel lines throughout those early years and up to the time of 1933.
Well, FDR came out for Unemployment Insurance. He called a regional conference on unemployment and he also put through an old-age pension law in 1930 in New York state, one of the few state-wide old-age pension laws of that time. So as I say, the President was quite knowledgeable as regards the long range objectives of what we call Social Security.
Then we were fortunate that Frances Perkins came into the cabinet. She had worked with Roosevelt all those years when he was governor. And she of course had more technical knowledge than he had. He relied upon her judgment as well as her technical knowledge. Then, of course, the third giant in this picture was Harry Hopkins, really a great man--imagination and daring, with a conviction for service and a compassion for humanity that cannot be understood if you did not know the man. FDR had confidence in Hopkins and in Frances Perkins, and he had confidence in the other people that Miss Perkins gathered around to work on this program. So there you had three key figures really understanding each other and having complete confidence in each other, I think that is the main reason why we were successful in developing a program that was successful in moving on through the Congress and into law.
Roosevelt you know, was an interesting fellow. In spite of the popular notion that he was a great spender he was really constitutionally opposed to spending--his own money at least. He was very frugal buying stamps, buying razor blades, even bragging about how many shaves he got from one blade and that sort of thing. One of his admonitions to this group I mentioned to you was that he didn't want anything like the Townsend Plan.
I should interpolate that when I was made chairman of the Technical Board I was even at that time a dyed-in-the-wool bureaucrat. So in the very first instant I didn't even have to think about what to do. I immediately acted to get someone else to do the work. The outstanding man in the country to do the job of assembling all the data, getting together all of the alternatives that had been discussed in this country and other countries in the space of six months (that was the time interval we had between the adjournment of Congress and the time it reconvened when the President said he would report a program), was Ed Witte of Wisconsin. He had been head of the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Library. He was used to bringing together fugitive material and all kinds of material to focus on a particular problem without spending a great deal of time, any time in fact, doing basic research. There wasn't time for that. We had to depend upon extant research and knowledgeable people that could be brought into the picture to help in the development of the program. Fred Hoehler, Eve Burns, Bill Haber, Wilbur Cohen--oh, I'm sure that there are others here too who helped. All contributed to focusing on these problems in the light of the thinking that had been done in various other countries and in this country.
Well, I started out to say the President stipulated that he wanted something that would be sound from an economic standpoint. He by no means wanted us to consider anything approaching a Townsend Plan, didn't want anything resembling a Townsend Plan, because he said a baby Townsend Plan would grow up to be a giant. We must therefore work out something that was safe and had built-in safeguards. Miss Perkins had talked with him many, many times so he was thinking of contributory Social Insurance, under which people were expected to contribute (required to contribute, as a matter of fact) or their employers were required to do so on their behalf in order to build up specific benefit rights. The second thing he wanted was that the administration be kept close to the people. He talked about Mose Smith, his farm manager, and what Mose would have to do to get his benefits. What would he do? Would he go down to the post office and find out what his rights were or would he have to write to Washington to somebody there and get a form letter. The President didn't want that sort of thing. He would talk about the fellows down in Warm Springs too. He would conjure up actual human beings he knew to see just how they would be affected by the program that we were telling him about. He preferred to talk in those very specific individual human terms.
The big decision that had to be made, of course was what to do about protection against unemployment. This was uppermost in the minds of the President, Harry Hopkins and I think all of us. There was a work program, as you know. WPA hadn't started but there was the CWA that preceded it. Harry Hopkins felt very strongly that a work program was the answer to unemployment and he was quite skeptical of anything else. We'd had the experience in Britain and it was considered a bad example of what can happen under what we now call Unemployment Insurance. It was called the dole. This was about the dirtiest word around when we were talking about how to handle unemployment. So that was the big decision as to what to do. The final solution was this--that we would go ahead with an unemployment insurance system and when a person exhausted his benefit rights he'd have a little green ticket (the President wanted green for some reason or another) that would entitle him to priority on a work program. Everybody recognized that Unemployment Insurance had to have a limited term. We musn't have what the British had--uncovenanted benefits or extended benefits and so on. We've had them since, but at that time we considered it practical to have a work program in readiness in the event that the relatively short term unemployment insurance benefits became exhausted.
When it came to old-age security (as I say, that was secondary) the question was what to do about the present aged and what to do about those that would grow old in the future. Doug Brown was chairman of the subcommittee on old-age security. They came up with something that seemed to be the answer. I can remember very well that the Cabinet committee was simply entranced--a miracle had been passed. It was a two-pronged attack on the problem of old-age insecurity. The two prongs --one of old-age assistance, to take care of the presently aged population and a contributory social insurance system to take care of those who grew old in the future. He drew a beautiful chart showing how as the insurance program developed and took on more and more persons for insurance benefits, the curve of old-age assistance would go down and the curve of old-age insurance benefits would go up. We thought old-age assistance would pass out of the picture in a relatively short period of time. But that has not happened. We still have 2,400,000 drawing old-age assistance. Thirty percent of these, as I recall, because we have inadequate old-age insurance benefits. But at any rate that was the notion about how to handle the old-age problem.
Well, there are a lot of things about these choices but it seems to me if it hadn't been for Roosevelt's strong feeling that we must have a safe system and not what he called anything approaching the Townsend Plan, either for old-age, unemployment or any other risk, that we probably would have today in this country, instead of the present system, a national flat pension non-contributory benefit system That, as you know, was the system that was adopted in Canada, New Zealand, Sweden and many other countries. However I hasten to say that I think if we had gone that way we probably would have come full circle like many of these countries have. I think Gerhard Colm said in his talk this afternoon that Sweden is now in the process of superimposing a supplementary old-age insurance system on its basic old-age system. Canada is considering it, Great Britain has already done so and even back of the Iron Curtain they have gone to a system of differential benefits related to wages, in all of the satellite countries. So I think what we would have wound up with would have been what we sometimes call a double-decker--X dollars for everybody and differential benefits depending upon the wage record, built on top of the basic benefits.
I want to interpolate that many people think that if it hadn't been for the Townsend Plan we wouldn't have any Social Security at all. We wouldn't have any old-age program and if we didn't have an old-age program Congress wouldn't have been interested in passing some of these other phases of our Social Security program. I don't believe that is true at all. I think the President was much more concerned about Huey Long with his Share the Wealth and Every Man a King slogans than he was about Townsend. The Townsend movement developed its fullest strength after the Social Security Act was passed and was still a very important political movement that had to be taken into consideration in the late 30's,
Well, let's turn back to Unemployment Insurance. The big "if" there is if we had recommended and if Congress had adopted a straight Federal unemployment insurance system instead of a Federal-State system. Well, that's a big "if" and it might have been decided differently if we had known what the course of history would be so far as judicial interpretation was concerned and if we had had all the administrative experience that has developed in the last 25 years. You must bear in mind that we didn't know what the courts were going to hold on constitutionality. As a matter of fact, when the Social Security Act was under consideration right in the midst of the Senate hearings the Supreme Court declared the Railroad Retirement Law unconstitutional. So we had both the constitutional and the administrative problems to try to envisage and cope with. Moreover, as experts do all over the world (and outer space I suppose too), they disagreed on what the ideal unemployment insurance system should look like. Some felt there should be comparatively short-term benefits, but starting right on the day a person became unemployed; some felt there should be long-term benefits, letting four weeks or more go by before benefits were paid, and there were other variations. Some felt there must be employee contributions as well as employer contributions, same felt that was the last thing that should be considered. And so that was how it went. For all those reasons the "if" was resolved in favor of what we have today. As I say, if we were acting today I personally think we would not be acting the way we acted 25 years ago, but that's another subject and requires very extended consideration.
Many people say, well alright, you made the choice so far as Federal-State system, but why didn't you put in something that would at least lead to adequate State systems. Well, again you had a constitutional question. The lawyers said, if you put in standards, we haven't got a prayer so far as upholding the constitutionality. Don't put in any standards. We were weak enough to accept that mandate so there are no standards and that's the reason. Moreover, when you start talking about standards you then have to come to grips with all the various policy questions. That was also one of the factors in deciding against the straight Federal system.
There was another big "if". Many people say let's assume you are right in defending everything you did about Unemployment Insurance, but why did you put in employer experience rating. Didn't you realize that the whole idea of eliminating unfair interstate competition by establishing a uniform contribution rate throughout the country would be completely lost, if you had employer experience rating. Well, first of all let me say that stabilization of employment was considered in those days the paramount objective. The President himself was a confirmed believer in stabilization of employment as something that had to be thought of and encouraged in any program we sent to the Congress. The message that I prepared for him to send to the Congress was strengthened by him. He wrote in a phrase "and to encourage stabilization of employment" that was not in the original draft that was sent over to him. Then, of course everybody who had anything to do with the three main programs of Unemployment Insurance--the Wisconsin Employer Reserves Plan, the Ohio Plan which was considered quite different and called for a pool fund instead of employer reserve, and a straight Federal plan providing for not only State plans but industry-wide plans cutting across state lines--all provided for financial encouragement of employment stabilization. So it was something in the air and everybody felt it was something that had to be encouraged. The big mistake, as I see it, as we look back, is that there wasn't any definition of the phrase that's in the law: "experience with unemployment". That was not defined. What has developed is, instead of a direct measure of employment stabilization geared to fluctuations in the number of employees on the payroll, in all except three or four states it is the amount of benefits paid out. Again, we were told by the lawyers that that had to be accepted as a measure of experience with unemployment, even though an indirect one. But this has created a direct incentive toward keeping benefits down through inadequate benefit provisions in the state laws and through severe disqualifications of one kind or another to the great detriment of an adequate unemployment system in this country today.
There are other "ifs" as regards standards. For instance, even the standards that we proposed were rejected by Congress. For instance, we did have in this Unemployment Insurance section of the bill that at least one percent should be collected and put into a pooled fund in every single State. Well, the maximum average contribution rate in this country has never exceeded one and one-half percent and has ranged down to a very small fraction of one percent. The average over the twenty-odd years would be below one percent, I would say. So if we had had that requirement written into law it would at least have established a basic minimum rate and the adverse effects of employment experience rating would have been softened greatly. Likewise, Congress would not permit us to write in requirements that unemployment benefits be paid through the United States Employment Service. They said through public employment offices "or such other agencies as the Social Security Board may approve''. Why was that? Because they were mad at the director of the United States Employment Service at that time. So it was necessary for the Social Security Board to require by administrative decision that the States could pay only through public employment offices affiliated with the United States Employment Service. Thus, the Board was obliged to refuse to permit benefits to be paid through State liquor offices or public welfare offices.
That shows the difficulties of deciding these ifs. There were all these technical difficulties, constitutional difficulties, Congressional difficulties and plain ignorance on our part of what all the arguments pro and con were for these various alternatives that we were struggling with. I think for example that if we had included employee contributions in the Federal law that would have made a great difference in unemployment insurance in this country. It would have gone a long ways to focus upon the social objectives of the program and would have taken considerable of the edge off of this business of looking upon the unemployment insurance system as a tax avoidance system. Really, that's what it is looked upon for the most part. How can we keep our contribution rates down to the lowest point. It's all right up to a certain point if it's genuine stabilization, but it's all wrong as it is practiced in all except three or four States--that's my judgment.
Now let me mention something further about old-age insurance. I mentioned the possibility that we might today have a non-contributory national system if the President hadn't felt the way he did, but I did say to you that the Townsend drive for a flat pension system did not end by any means with the passage of the Social Security Act in 1935. It was a continuing important policy question confronting the Administration and people of this country up until 1950. And you might include the 1953 United States Chamber of Commerce proposal which was something of an approach to a flat pension, but I wouldn't put it in the same class with straight outright flat pension. You would have to say that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce plan was one of various double-decker plans, that is, flat pension plus supplementary benefits.
In 1936 the Presidential campaign was fought on the question of whether the old-age insurance system, which was called Old-Age Benefits System, should be repealed. The candidate of the other political party called it a fraud on the working man and a cruel hoax, and he pledged himself to its repeal. That was a very exciting campaign and, if it had been won by the other political party, would changed the course of history as regards Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance. But that was not the end. In 1939 there were very extensive changes made: Survivors benefits were included, so it became Old-Age and Survivors Benefits. But we hadn't gotten out of the depression by 1939. The people who were very strong Keynesians revived the argument for a flat pension for everybody--a universal flat pension plan. They said we can't afford to wait for the maturing of this contributory old-age insurance plan. Now I hate to mention names, because some of them are dead. Harry White of the Treasury Department was one of them; Lauchlin Currie another, who I think at that time was still in the Treasury Department but later went over to the White House. And to my amazement, Bob LaFollete of Wisconsin, my dear friend and the person whom I relied upon in the Senate Finance Committee, produced a list of more than a hundred questions. He started reading these questions to me. They were technical questions and I knew he couldn't have prepared them, they were too technical--they dealt for the most part with the so-called arbitraries. A person would have worked for a certain length of time but he might be just one week or one month or one day short of meeting the minimum requirement. I was asked, "How do you defend that?" And I must say that I sweat blood because it is very difficult to explain that when you start anything approaching an insurance plan you must have minimum requirements by way of contributions, if you're going to have anything that can be legitimately called an insurance plan as opposed to an outright grant from general revenues. But I then discovered that Senator LaFollete had been furnished this list of questions by Mr. Currie. I could tell you about a meeting at my house in Arlington when I invited all of these people to discuss just what they had in mind. There was no compromise at all. They were for a flat pension. I said "What do mean by a flat pension?" They said "A flat pension geared to the business cycle", "Well, what do you mean by that?" "What we mean is that when we're in a slump, we step up the flat pension and when we have inflation threatening us we cut back." I said "What kind of a social program would that be; where would you get any security for the individual out of a program like that?" "We don't give a damn about that, we don't care how you do it as long as you shovel out money when its needed to iron out the business cycle." Now it sounds fantastic but I'm just indicating to you the continuing strong forces at work for a universal flat pension plan.
Gerhard Colm said that in 1940 the President included something in one of his messages on a double-decker. I think he's wrong on that--I would certainly remember that. But I'll tell you what did happen. Paul McNutt from Indiana wasadministrator of the Federal Security Agency in which the Social Security Board, of which I was chairman, was located. He was the leading candidate for the Presidency until President Roosevelt decided to be a candidate for a third term. I received a copy of a speech Mr. McNutt was going to make criticizing the existing old-age security system and advocating a federal flat-rate universal pension. I immediately took a copy of the speech to the President's press secretary to ascertain whether the President approved. The President thereupon instructed me to inform Mr. McNutt that he should not deliver this speech.
That created a terrible situation. The poor man was already on the train to New York, so we sent someone by plane. He was already on the platform ready to talk to the National Industrial Conference Board when he was called into the wings. He was told that the President did not want him to deliver this speech. Well, it was really pretty sad and I must say if I had been Paul McNutt I'd have come back with a gun and shot the guy that was responsible--it would have been justifiable homicide.
The people who were for a flat old-age pension were very diverse. I don't know whether it's as interesting to you as it is to me even in retrospect. But of all persons who were for a flat pension, one whom you would think would probably be the last one was Bob Taft himself. Bob Taft felt that it was simpler, more understandable and more equitable, to have a straight pension. In talks with him I think he mentioned a figure of $100, and at the hearings in 1950 when I was testifying he said "What about a $25 a month minimum pension?" Then Senator Milliken said "I wouldn't go along with $25. There would be immediate pressure to make it $75." After this discussion they dropped the idea, but I don't think Senator Taft himself ever dropped the idea, thinking that there was something wrong with the contributory old-age insurance system and that a minimum flat pension would be a better approach.
Those are some of the things we talked about and decisions we made and the reasons we made them, but I think they should be re-examined in the light of existing conditions. So far I have discussed only Social Insurance. I see a friend here who is administering Public Assistance and he wants to know just how come Social Security doesn't cover Public Assistance, so I've got to say something about that even though you want to adjourn. Public Assistance was and still is a categorical program as you know--needy old people, dependent children, the blind and disabled. But there again we had the problem that we couldn't get into the law any definite standards. For example, we had in the original bill that a State must provide assistance "compatible with decency and health". Senator Byrd spent hours cross-examining Mr. Witte as to just what that phrase meant and just what Virginia would have to do if that phrase stayed in the law. We had borrowed it from the New York and Massachusetts laws. That's all we could say. We were sure we wouldn't have any trouble, but that didn't satisfy Senator Byrd so that went out. But Congress went too far, because nowhere in the main sections of the Public Assistance titles was there any mention made that the assistance had to be based upon need. In the preamble to these titles, it did say it was for the purpose of assisting the States to help needy old people, etc. Several States immediately came along with flat pension plans which they wanted approved under these assistance titles. So we asked the General Counsel to advise us whether these could be approved. He did not put his opinion in writing because it was too touchy a subject, but lo and behold he did say orally that we would have to approve a flat pension plan not related to need. Well, we said "How do you reach that conclusion?". He said "need does not appear anywhere in the operative section. It only appears in the preamble which is only hortatory and has no legal effect".
Well I must say I may have violated my oath of office in not following the advice of the learned General Counsel, but it was our duty to interpret the law, while we listened to his advice. We interpreted the law the way we thought it should be interpreted and we felt that the whole legislative history as well as this language in the preamble to each title made it clear that Congress intended Public Assistance to be based upon need. If we had accepted the General Counsel's opinion as binding, I think we would probably have had all these State flat pension plans come along and we never would have gotten started with a Federal old-age insurance plan at all.
Another thing you may be interested in is that we tried as early as 1939 to get Federal matching that was related in inverse proportion to a state's per capita income, as a measure of the financial ability of the State to share in the cost. That is, the lower the per capita income the higher the Federal sharing and vice versa. I testified before the Ways and Means Committee and I must say that really was tough because in those days we didn't even have a microphone and the committee room I would guess was one and one half times as wide as this one. It had a bench stretching all the way across; the chairman was a man in his 80's even at that time and deaf as a post; and I don't have a very strong voice anyway. I would be shouting at the top of my voice and he would say "Speak up, young man". If some member at one end would ask me a question I would address him and the member at the other end would say "I can't hear a word you're saying". That went on for nine days. If you want to see a marathon just take a look at those '39 hearings.
There were lots of things we would like to have included in the 1939 amendments that didn't get in. We didn't get this variable matching which I recommended and which the Ways and Means Committee threw out. I was somewhat consoled by a very generous tribute the chairman paid me when the hearings were finally concluded.
I went over to the Senate when they took up the bill and testified exactly the way I had testified to the Ways and Means Committee. The reporters must have run out of news because the noon edition of the Evening Star had a blazing headline, saying "Altmeyer Recommends Variable Grant". That's what we called it; it was a very poor label. When I got back to the office the dear chairman of the Ways and Means Committee called me up and said: "Altmeyer, we don't want you ever to appear before our committee again, ever." (I thought, am I going to lose all these amendments? What's going to happen to Social Security if the chairman can't have access to the only committee that considers it in the House?"). He said "After all the things we did for you over here you go over there and undercut us by asking for something that we turned you down on here." Well, I tried to explain to him that I thought it was my duty; after all there are two houses of Congress; and I just got in deeper and deeper with the old man. It took an awful long time to re-establish relations with him.
But the saddest blow of all was yet to come. When we got into the executive session of the Senate Finance Committee, agreement was reached on everything except variable grants. The Senate Finance Committee was entranced with variable grants. Why? Because there were three or four senators on the Senate Finance Committee whose states would get a great deal more Federal aid--millions of dollars more. So the bill was held up on into August.
I went to the President with my dilemma. I said "Here I'm told over in the House Ways and Means Committee never to come back again and now the Senate Finance Committee says they won't pass the bill if we don't have something in by way of variable grants". The President wanted to know what I meant by variable
grants. After he listened a while he said "what you are talking about are lopsided grants. You want to get away from 50-50 grants, don't you? You want these lopsided grants". I said "I don't know that they should be called that" and I tried to explain how much better it was to do it that way if we really want to get needy people taken care of adequately throughout the nation and so on. He said "No, once you get off the 50-50 matching the sky's the limit and before you know it we'll by paying the whole bill", again indicating the man was not a big spender. By the time I had gone to him I'd gotten down to a little teeny weeny bit of a compromise. You can't imagine how small I'd gotten it down to. I had it worked out so that 14 of the most needy states would get some more money. So I thought that's a small price to pay to get through this very important piece of legislation. The President said "Not one nickel more, not one solitary nickel". You see, we had had this recommendation in our annual report, in our testimony in Congress, and then I had to go back and tell the committee that the President didn't want it. They wanted to know what was going on at the other end of town. They said "Do you usually make recommendations that you haven't cleared with the President?"
I have already mentioned the difficulty I was having because the flat pension advocates were using Senator LaFollette to highlight the possibilities that many workers would barely miss meeting the minimum eligibility requirements. I asked the President whether he was disturbed at these so-called "arbitraries". Be said, "Not at all. Why, take Mose Smith, for example. If Mose barely missed qualifying there would be any number of people in Dutchess County who would give him enough work to do so that he could qualify." It was characteristic of the President to personalize a complicated problem and dispose of it so simply.
Fortunately, Senator LaFollette and the other members of the Senate Finance Committee also shared the President's views as regards these border-line situations. Moreover, the Senators who had been insisting upon variable grants to the States for Public Assistance finally capitulated and the 1939 amendments became law.
The thing that is too bad, really, is that we still have a categorical
approach in Public Assistance. I don't think we could have gotten
a general approach in 1935, but it's long overdue to have certain
needy persons excluded in this matching where the Federal government
pays more than 50 per cent of the cost. It seems to me unconscionable
to exclude unemployed persons exhausting their unemployment insurance
benefits, people who haven't reached 65 yet or can't qualify for
old-age insurance benefits, seriously disabled who can't qualify
for permanent total disability benefits, all these poor people,
needy people who don't fit into the four categories, the mystic
categories where Federal monies are available, which means by and
large that more adequate assistance is provided.
Tomorrow morning we're going to talk about health insurance, I understand, and maybe I can mention some interesting episodes in history as regards health insurance. We debated long and hard whether we would include health insurance in the original recommendations in 1935. We sent a report to the President after the Social Security Act was through Congress, recommending that he send up a health insurance program. The President decided he did not want to send one up at that time, that was in 1935. In '36 there was a Presidential campaign coming along and I guess he thought it was too dangerous. But then in 1938 we had a big national conference, and the sentiment throughout the country seemed to be so favorable that when we reported to the President he first said "That's a wonderful issue for the campaign this fall". I should have been on my toes and realized he was saying something significant, when he then said "We'll hold this until 1940 when the Presidential campaign comes around". You know we were wondering right down to the wire whether the President would really be a candidate for the third term. Why he was so interested in holding this for the 1940 campaign as early as 1938 I often wondered. He never told me. But at any rate by 1940 the war was on and the President said "Dr. New Deal has been fired; Dr. Win the War has taken his place". And so today we're now debating whether we will have health insurance for the aged and I would hope for the widows and orphans under this Federal Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance system.