Social Security

"A Petition Favoring Legislation for the Townsend Plan of Old Age Revolving Pensions," ca.1935

National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the U.S. Senate

One of the most popular old-age pension proposals was the "Townsend Plan of Old Age Revolving Pensions" devised by Dr. Francis Townsend, an elderly California physician. His plan, which was really more of an economic recovery scheme than a pension program, would have paid $200 a month to all Americans over the age of 60 if the individual refrained from working and if they would promise to spend the payment in one month. The money to finance Townsend’s plan would come from a 2-percent tax on business transactions. While this plan had little chance of becoming a reality, it attracted millions of supporters and increased pressure on Congress to address old-age insurance.