August 14th, 2010
10:13 AM ET
12 years ago

Social Security turns 75

Read the full text of the Weekly White House address after the jump.

Seventy-five years ago today, in the midst of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt signed Social Security into law, laying a cornerstone in the foundation of America’s middle class, and assuring generations of America’s seniors that after a lifetime of hard work, they’d have a chance to retire with dignity. We have an obligation to keep that promise; to safeguard Social Security for our seniors, people with disabilities, and all Americans – today, tomorrow, and forever.

Now, we’ve been talking for a long time about how to do that; about how to make sure Social Security is healthy enough to cover the higher costs that are kicking in now that baby boomers are retiring. And I’m committed to working with anyone, Democrat or Republican, who wants to strengthen Social Security. But what we can’t afford to do is privatize Social Security – an ill-conceived idea that would add trillions of dollars to our budget deficit while tying your benefits to the whims of Wall Street traders and the ups and downs of the stock market.

A few years ago, we had a debate about privatizing Social Security. And I’d have thought that debate would’ve been put to rest once and for all by the financial crisis we’ve just experienced. I’d have thought, after being reminded how quickly the stock market can tumble, after seeing the wealth people worked a lifetime to earn wiped out in a matter of days, that no one would want to place bets with Social Security on Wall Street; that everyone would understand why we need to be prudent about investing the retirement money of tens of millions of Americans.

But some Republican leaders in Congress don’t seem to have learned any lessons from the past few years. They’re pushing to make privatizing Social Security a key part of their legislative agenda if they win a majority in Congress this fall. It’s right up there on their to-do list with repealing some of the Medicare benefits and reforms that are adding at least a dozen years to the fiscal health of Medicare – the single longest extension in history.

That agenda is wrong for seniors, it’s wrong for America, and I won’t let it happen. Not while I’m President. I’ll fight with everything I’ve got to stop those who would gamble your Social Security on Wall Street. Because you shouldn’t be worried that a sudden downturn in the stock market will put all you’ve worked so hard for – all you’ve earned – at risk. You should have the peace of mind of knowing that after meeting your responsibilities and paying into the system all your lives, you’ll get the benefits you deserve.

Seventy-five years ago today, Franklin Roosevelt made a promise. He promised that from that day forward, we’d offer – quote – “some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against…poverty-stricken old age.” That’s a promise each generation of Americans has kept. And it’s a promise America will continue to keep so long as I have the honor of serving as President. Thanks for listening. Thanks for watching. And have a nice weekend.

Filed under: President Obama • Social Security
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. all the news that's fit to omit

    Great picture of this gutless and clueless fraud, eyes closed, just like his first 18 months.

    That way he can't see his plummeting polls and the absolute across the board damnation of his POLICIES.

    Now of course he is for the mosque even though 70 percent of us are against it IN THAT SPOT.

    See you in November Barry and bring a kleenex, no two, Shelly will need one as well.

    August 14, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  2. Marcus

    'But some Republican leaders in Congress don’t seem to have learned any lessons from the past few years.'

    How could they? They have a serious case of selective memory Mr. President, whatever that contradicts their beliefs but had happened more than a year ago simply did NOT happened at all.

    August 14, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  3. Marcus

    75 years of 'It won't work!'
    75 years of 'It'll be broke when I need it!'
    75 years of 'It's a handout!'
    75 years and still counting...

    August 14, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  4. NVa Native

    It's great to once again have a well educated, experianced, and intelligent President who has a firm grasp on reality.
    And one that speaks english again is a big plus too, eight years of gibberish were enough.

    August 14, 2010 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  5. Charlie in Maine

    And 75 years from last spring our grandchildren will be celebrating Healthcare's passage.

    August 14, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  6. jim

    Obama has done more to hurt seniors in this country than any president ever has.Now he's trying to pretend that he is their friend and will do everything to protect social security.So sad for this man to be in this predicament that he has to resort to lies to try to stay in power.

    August 14, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |

    You improve it by getting OBOZO out of the WH.

    You improve it by giving individuals the option to OPT OUT and have their own IRA, 401K, etc to where DUMocRATS who like to "TAX AND SPEND" can't get their greedy little hands on it.

    August 14, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  8. Keith in Austin

    And people now, 50 and under are likely to never see a dime!

    August 14, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  9. Buster

    Something has to be done for social security unlike what the demorats want which is to do nothing. When Republicans take over both houses of congress this November, maybe then something will be done other than just giving lip service on fixing the problem caused by both parties. Republicans/Conservatives want to save social security not destroy it but you cannot save it by doing nothing.

    August 14, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  10. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Republicans plan is to privitize social security which was Bush's plan so don't expect any help from a Republican. Republicans have no plan to save social security the only plan they have is to save the rich.

    August 14, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  11. Bobert

    Sorry President Obama, but I'm 24 now and wholly do not expect Social Security to be there when I retire. Too bad I'm still forced to pay into it.

    August 14, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  12. g

    if reagan did not steal the money to hand it to the rich in tax breaks social security would had be in good shape today thank you republicans the devils party

    August 14, 2010 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  13. Missing the Big Picture

    Obama is missing the big picture with SS. As a young person, I would rather control my own money than pay into a pot of money that I know I may not be able to get back. There are already large Universities in the country that allow people to opt out of social security and place money in a 403(b). If you are under 50 and are willing to accept that risk, then you should have the right to do the same thing. I know I can manange my money and retirement better than the Government. Plus, anyone who thinks that the retirement age will not be raised is fooling yourself. Why should I have to wait until I am old and not control when I retire. Obama continues to rip wall street when almost everyone that works has some money in retirement accounts tied to wall street. That is the same of what he says and what is the reality.

    August 14, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  14. Karl in Charleston,SC

    And Social Security won't live past 80!

    August 14, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  15. KatR

    Health care legislation and more effective OSHA regulations could very well result in solvency for Social Security. That's because a big chunk of SS funds are funneled to SSI payments for disabled workers and their families. Some of these individuals have been injured at their job and others couldn't get the preventitive health care they needed leading to disability. The free market must be regulated by government in order to adequately serve the public need. In the words of President Theodore Roosevelt..."no business should be more powerful than government". A scary concept for backward-thinking members of the GOP. Keep after them Mr. President. Keep speaking for We the People.

    August 14, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |