put those payroll contributions there so as to give the contributors
a legal, moral, and political right to collect their pensions and
their unemployment benefits. With those taxes in there, no damn
politician can ever scrap my social security program
Franklin Roosevelt recalling why social security
was based on payroll contributions, 1941
1930s, support for the elderly was a matter of local and family
rather than a Federal concern (except for veterans pensions).
However, the widespread suffering caused by the Great Depression
brought support for numerous schemes for a national old-age insurance
system. On January 17, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent
a message to Congress asking for "social security" legislation.
The same day, Senator Robert Wagner of New York and Representative
David Lewis of Maryland introduced bills reflecting the administrations
views. The resulting Senate and House bills encountered opposition
from those who considered it a governmental invasion of the private
sphere and from those who sought exemption from payroll taxes for
employers who adopted government-approved pension plans. Eventually
the bill passed both houses, and on August 15, 1935, President Roosevelt
signed the Social Security Act into law.
The Act created
a uniquely American solution to the problem of old-age pensions.
Unlike many European nations, U.S. social security "insurance"
was supported from "contributions" in the form of taxes
on individuals wages and employers payrolls rather than
directly from Government funds.