Deja Vu: A Look Back at Some of the Tirades Against Social Security and Medicare

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Communist Party of America

More than 70,000 people at a Community Party Rally in New York

The Social Security Act also had critics on the left. In a House hearing on the Act early in 1935, the Communist Party sent a representative named C. A. Hathway to testify. “We do not believe that this bill can be amended in the interests of the workers,” Hathway said of the legislation, at the time called the Economic Security Bill and introduced in the Senate by Democrat Robert Wagner. “In our opinion, the Wagner bill is not designed to provide social security for the masses of the people. In our opinion this bill is designed, rather, to provide security for the rich who dominate the country. The aims of the sponsors of the Wagner bill, in our opinion, are, first, to quiet the masses who are today increasingly expressing their discontent with the crisis conditions that exist by offering them a sham measure that will give them in reality nothing.”

Hathway said the Communist Party instead supported more extensive legislation in the House known as the Frazier-Lundeen bill, which, among other things, mandated unemployment insurance that paid the prevailing local wage for the entire duration of unemployment, funded by a tax increase on incomes over $85,000 in today’s dollars.

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