Arthur J. Altmeyer, one of the architects of the Social Security Act in his definitive book, The Formative Years of Social Security (published by the University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Milwaukee and London, 1968 pp, 37-38.), records the desultory tactics Republicans used in 1935 to prevent the enactment of the Social Security Act.
Here is one example of how they operated: Republican Congressman John Taber on April 19, 1935 , assailing the Social Security Act, on the floor of Congress said, “Never in the history of the world has any measure been brought here so insidiously designed to prevent business recovery, to enslave workers and prevent any possibility of employers providing work for people.”
Another example was Congressman Daniel Reed, Republican of New York and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee opposing the Social Security Act in 1935 using this kind of calumny said, “The lash of the dictator will be felt and 25, 000,000 free Americans will for the first time submit themselves to a finger print test.”
Another Republican Congressman, James W. Wardsworth, also of New York and a member of the influential House Ways and Means Committee in 1935, registered his opposition to the Social Security Act by saying, “This bill opens the door and invites the entrance into the political field of a power so vast, so powerful, as to pull the pillars of the temple down upon the heads of our descendants.”
These comments directed at a bill to provide older Americans from being mired in poverty and despair in their old age exposes the callousness that Republicans demonstrated.
The slime spewed by the Republicans in 1935 has continued non-stop. Today, Republican presidential aspirants and Republican members of Congress repeat the same vicious slurs. Their tactics and smears today are reminiscent of 1935 when the Social Security Act was passed.
We defeated them in 1935 and we must and can defeat them today and in the future. Yes, the leopard never changes his spots.
Sy Slavin, Ph.D.
Director, Kentucky Labor Institute