Social security of citizens has always been an issue of major concern for the government of the United States of America.
Before 1935, there was no federal program of this type. In 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed the Social Security Act as a part of New Deal Program and as a result, provision of social security became a liability of the federal and state governments of the US. Primarily two different social security insurance plans were offered for the purpose. One of these was the unemployment compensation program under supervision of both the federal and state governments. Another one was old age retirement insurance that remained under the sole supervision of the US federal government.
Apart from these, there were a number of other proposals made by the plan. According to these proposals, the federal government was given the responsibility of assisting the state governments with necessary financial aids to carry out different programs like public health services, beneficial programs for disabled and aged persons, vocational rehabilitation, child welfare services, and so on. At the same time, the old age insurance program that was made compulsory by the Act, provided benefits to all those who were more than 65 years of age. To provide these benefits, an additional payroll tax of 1% was imposed on employers and employees. A fund was created with this money that was used for the purpose of providing old-age benefits.
The original Social Security Act 1935 provided coverage to all those who were related to commercial and industrial sector of the country; but gradually benefits of these programs were offered to several other groups as well. For the purpose, a number of amendments have been made in the original Act. According to Social Security Act amendments of 1939, dependents and survivors of the covered workers are also included as beneficiaries of the program.
The 1950 amendment included several other workers as the beneficiary of the program. These groups include employees of state and local government, a certain portion of the farm workers, and several other categories including self-employed persons, domestic workers and employees of non-profit organizations. Gradually, people from armed forces were also included in the program. The 1957 amendment also included all those insured workers, who are over 50 years of age and permanently disabled, as the beneficiaries. Retirement age was also reduced to 62 years from 65 years.
Medicare program was implemented in 1965 by the Congress and this program offered medical facilities to all those who have attained the age of 65 years. Medicaid program was also implemented during the same period. The 1972 amendment of the Social Security Act combined retirement benefits with Consumer Price Index. Finally, in 1974, the Social Security insurance program was handed over to the Social Security Administration. Further amendment had been made in 1983 to bring a certain portion of the benefits under taxation.
After a series of headline-grabbing statements about the possibility of “switching” European consumers over to American gas, the US media hastened to announce the launch of Obama’s oil and gas offensive against Russia. In reality, the EU is not prepared, neither technically nor in terms of price, to buy its energy resources from the US. It would take at least ten years to adapt even the technically advanced German energy system to work with American gas supply.
Professor at Columbia University. Recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001 & the John Bates Clark Medal in 1979. Author of "Freefall: America, Free Markets", "The Sinking of the World Economy", "Globalisation and its Discontents" & "Making Globalisation Work".
Mario I. Blejer is a former governor of the Central Bank of Argentina and former Director of the Center for Central Banking Studies at the Bank of England. Eduardo Levy Yeyati is Professor of Economics at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella and Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution.