Committee on Economic Security (CES)

Volume VI. Social Insurance

K. Miscellaneous Studies

Endorsements of the Wagner-Lewis Bill

In the 73d. Congress. In testimony Before A Sub-Committee of the Committee On Ways and Means of the House Of Representatives
March 21 to March 30, 1935

Professor Paul H. Douglas, University of Chicago (Hearings, p. 49)
". . .And yet it should be noted that the Wagner-Lewis bill leaves the States free to adopt the kind of unemployment insurance which seems to them best and permits them to carry on the experimentation which is so valuable, and decentralizes the administration at the same time.
This is federalism at its best and I can not commend to highly the statesmanship of the drafters and sponsors of this measure."

Abraham Epstein, Secretary, American Association for Social Security (Hearings, p. 46)
". . .It is up to all of us in the different States, as Miss Perkins stated, to fight for the best possible scheme. This bill would help the movement very much, however."

I.M. Rubinow, Member Ohio Unemployment Insurance Commission (Hearings, pp. 189-90)
". . .There is a great deal of truth in the criticism which Professor Slichter made about the limitations and difficulties and incongruities of State action, whether the States be small or large. After all, I do not suppose it is so much a question as to where you eat your lunch and dinner and how large a State is geographically as a question of industrial importance. But if that argument should be consistently applied, what would have become of all of out labor legislation and social legislation? I have not heard New England proposing to abolish its six different workmen's compensation laws. They have them and they manage to work under them although the same criticism could be applied to the six different compensation laws, with different standards and different systems of administration.
Your bill meets the main difficulty which we had to meet in Ohio, the one argument against unemployment insurance, which is not merely a matter of ignorance. A good many arguments are malicious and others are based upon misunderstanding. But the argument of interstate competition is a sound economic argument. Your bill is important because it meets that."

Helen Hall, Director, The Henry Street Settlement, New York City (Hearings, p. 206)
". . .On behalf of the settlements of the country I strongly urge the passage of the Wagner-Lewis bill at this session of Congress as a spur to State action. We need Federal initiative to bring us a unified, dependable, self-respecting system for handling unemployment."

William Green, President, American Federal of Labor (Hearings, p. 253)
". . .Now, I construe that to mean that the real purpose embodied in the bill, its chief objective is to promote the enactment of unemployment insurance legislation in the different States. It is designed to accelerate and promote the enactment of unemployment insurance legisaltion, either providing for the creation of unemployment reserves, as provided for in the Wisconsin act, or for the purpose of creating an unemployment State insurance fund.
We feel that it is highly commendable, and that if this proposed bill is enacted into law it will serve as a distinct contribution toward the enactment of State unemployment insurance legislation."

Mr. Green - (Hearings, p. 261)
"That is another matter that must be left to the different State legislatures. That varies, as you well know. I presume that it would have to be limited to a period that would seem to be reasonable and fair. I think some of the plans suggest a 6 months' period and some less, and some more."

Ralph E. Flanders, President, Jones and Lamson Machine Co., Springfield, Vt., (Hearings, p. 263)
"I would like to say that I completely approve of the purpose of this bill, and I am inclined to approve, sofar as my judgement goes, the means, the very ingenious means which this bill uses to insure a Nation-wide unemployment insurance scheme."

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