Pensions for All

December 24, 1949

Report Outline
Old-Age Pensions and Pension Policy
Social Security and Industry Pensions
Proposals for Universal Uniform Pensions

Old-Age Pensions and Pension Policy

Emergence of Old-Age Pensions as Political Issue

Current Agitation for provision of old-age pensions, by government or industry or both, on a scale hitherto advocated only by proponents of the Townsend Plan is generating a political issue of major significance. Senate consideration of a bill, already passed by the House, to broaden the coverage and increase the benefits of the present federal old-age insurance system will bring the whole question of pension policy to the fore at the 1950 session of Congress. And inasmuch as Congress is not likely to give full and immediate satisfaction to all the pension demands, the debate seems certain to be continued in the fall election campaign.

Attention was directed to the shortcomings of existing government provisions for old-age security when organized labor, during the autumn, won agreements from the steel industry, the Ford Motor Company, and other concerns to pay their retired workers pensions of $100 a month—a sum nearly four times the average primary benefit of $26 now paid under federal old-age insurance. Retired miners also had been receiving $100 monthly benefits from the United Mine Workers welfare fund until reduction of the fund's resources forced suspension of the payments in mid-September, while John L, Lewis was seeking an increase in the coal royalty which finances the fund.

Taft and Tobin on Universal $100 Monthly Pensions

Labor's progress in obtaining industry pensions to supplement Social Security old-age benefits caused Sen. Taft (R., O.) to ask on Nov. 22: “If a steel worker and a miner are to receive that sum [$100 a month], why not a molder or a waiter?” Although he expressed doubt that the nation's economy could support the burden of $100 a month pensions for all persona over 65 years of age, Taft proposed that Congress inquire into the possibility of providing basic uniform federal pensions. “The whole project is in such complete confusion today,” he said, “that it should receive the most careful study from the Senate Finance Committee when it meets in January.”

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