There They Go Again!

EisenhowerThe rhetoric surrounding the federal shut down because the House Republicans want to re-write history isn’t all that different from the hyperbole applied to the enactment of the Social Security Act in 1935. Here’s a taste:

 “This bill opens the door and invites the entrance into the political field of a power so vast, so powerful as to threaten the integrity of our institutions and to pull the pillars of the temple down upon the heads of our descendants.” Rep. James W. Wadsworth (R-NY) following a Ways and Means Committee vote, April 19, 1935

“Never in the history of the world has any measure been brought in here so insidiously designed so as to prevent business recovery, to enslave workers, and to prevent any possibility of the employers providing work for the people.” Rep. John Taber (R-NY) April 19, 1935

The Chamber of Commerce entered the fray with this timeless piece:

In other countries, the problem is handled by taking the necessary sum each year from the current taxes. Otherwise the load would get so big as to be a menace. On the other hand, if industry is burdened with too heavy taxes, the result may be more unemployment in the future, killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.  Harper Sibley, incoming president of the Chamber of Commerce, May 4, 1935

Really? Social Security was enacted into law, which didn’t prevent Americans from inventing and manufacturing Tupperware (1946), waterproof diapers (1946), transistors (1947), acrylic paint (1947), hand dryers (1948), felt tip marking pens (1953), zipper plastic storage bags (1954), videotape (1956), air-bubble packaging (1957), integrated circuits (1958), global satellite navigation systems (1960), computer mouse (1963), cordless telephones (1965), personal computers (1971).  [source]

President Dwight D. Eisenhower had this to say about Social Security in this prescient comment from 1954:

“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”  — Dwight Eisenhower in a letter to his brother Edgar, November 8, 1954

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose?

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