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The Battle for Social Security: From FDR's Vision to Bush's Gamble

by Nancy J. Altman

Published by Wiley

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In the chaotic aftermath of September 11th, millions of Americans reached into their pockets to contribute to the red Cross and other charitable organizations assisting victims' families. But the most immediate, sustained, and generous support came from Social Security. At the same time that Social Security was diligently finding and helping those families, President George W. Bush had the program in his crosshairs. Breaking rank with every president before him, President Bush is engaged in a high-profile campaign to undo America's most successful domestic program.

The Battle for Social Security recounts the program's lively and dramatic history, and highlights the longstanding ideological battle embedded in today's debate. Nancy Altman draws on her in-depth knowledge -- gained from more than thirty years of work on Social Security and private pensions -- to provide a clear and penetrating look at the individuals and events that have shaped the Social Security debate over the years. The book also traces the continuous thread of a "tiny splinter group," as President Eisenhower called opponents of the program, from Prescott Bush (the current president's grandfather) and his contemporaries to George W. Bush.

President Franklin Roosevelt's vision for Social Security as a "sound and adequate protection against the vicissitudes of modern life," has transformed society from a world of poorhouses and elderly parents living with adult children to an era of financial independence in old age. History reveals that Social Security has survived prior assaults because it has always enjoyed the support of almost all Americans. Armed with the proper insight, Americans can win the current battle and ensure this vital institution will continue to provide security to our children, grandchildren, and all future generations.

President Bush talks about strengthening Social Security, but his plan would profoundly weaken the system and radically transform it. In The Battle for Social Security, Nancy Altman recommends an alternative that would eliminate Social Security's projected deficit in a manner consistent with the program's philosophy and structure.

pub date: 2005-10-21 | hardcover | 9780471771722