FDR famously said that “no damn politician can ever scrap my Social Security program” because it is an earned benefit funded by the workers themselves. But he may not have anticipated a reckless president with a complete disregard for precedent, unconstrained by traditional guardrails, and influenced by a well-funded right-wing movement committed to subverting the signature program of the New Deal.
President Roosevelt may not have imagined a successor more than 80 years later publicly promising to “terminate” the payroll taxes that were supposed to protect the program from being “scrapped.”
On this anniversary, we must renew our commitment to preserving and expanding Social Security in the face of these relentless efforts to undermine it. Fortunately, the broader public—those who paid for, depend on, and cherish their earned benefits—have an opportunity to elect new leaders who will protect seniors, the disabled, and their loved ones against the “hazards and vicissitudes” of life that President Roosevelt understood so well.