Universal Coverage

"Quotes On Universal Coverage--1935 Congressional Hearings & "Debates"

Today, Social Security covers more than 90% of all working Americans, but it did not start out that way. When the Social Security program was designed by the Committee on Economic Security (CES) during the summer and Fall of 1934, one of the major issues they faced was the scope of the new program--i.e., who should be covered by Social Security. The decision of the CES was that the program should be universal, with virtually all workers in America as participants. However, there was resistance to this ambitious scope, especially within the Congress. Also, one of the key members of the CES, Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau was opposed to universal coverage and, in a surprise, he testified against universal coverage when he appeared before Congress, as did others. This is a sampling of the testimony of various witnesses before the House and Senate committees of jurisdiction, and from the floor debate in each chamber. When the dust settled, the new program covered only industrial workers, which was less than half the total working population. This sampling of quotations gives some idea of the rationales advanced for initially restricting Social Security coverage.

Text of the Statements