Gerald Ford on Social Security

President of the U.S., 1974-1977; Republican Rep. (MI)


Absurd to risk federal money in stock market

When Reagan when challenging Ford for the GOP nomination, during a press conference at Daytona Beach, Reagan was asked to comment about Social Security. "One of the failures of Social Security as a pension program," he replied, "is that the funds do not grow. They are not invested as they could be in the industrial might of America. Certainly a portion of this money could be invested in the economy and grow as it does in other pension funds."

Was Reagan suggesting that the government ought to plow those funds into the stock market? If so, there was proof that he didn't understand the complicated problems that the Social Security system faced. It would be absurd to risk such huge federal sums on the ups and downs of the market.

It was almost too good to be true. When reporters tried to pin him down, Reagan waffled and insisted that he'd never advocated such a step. It was just "one of the things suggested by some of the economists who are talking about this program."

Source: A Time To Heal, by Gerald Ford, p.364-365 , Feb 13, 1976

0.3% increase in payroll tax to ensure Trust Fund

Our Federal social security system for people who have worked and contributed to it for all their lives is a vital part of our economic system. Its value is no longer debatable. I am recommending that the full cost-of-living increases in the social security benefits be paid during the coming year.

But I am concerned about the integrity of our Social Security Trust Fund that enables people--those retired and those still working who will retire--to count on this source of retirement income. Simple arithmetic warns all of us that the Social Security Trust Fund is headed for trouble. Unless we act soon to make sure the fund takes in as much as it pays out, there will be no security for old or for young.

I must, therefore, recommend a three-tenths of 1 percent increase in both employer and employee social security taxes effective January 1, 1977. This will cost each covered employee less than $1 extra a week and will ensure the integrity of the trust fund.

Source: Pres. Ford's 1976 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 19, 1976

Entitlements make federal role into redistribution of income

In 1959, federal payments to individuals accounted for 24% of the budget. By 1974, that figure had climbed to 44%. And that was changing the nature of the government's role. In the early days of the Republic, the government's function was to promote domestic order and maintain national security. By 1974, its main function seemed to be the redistribution of income on a massive scale. More & more people who worked were transferring more & more money to people who didn't work. This trend posed a real threat to the survival of our free society. What worried me most was that we could reach a point of no return, where the number of recipients was greater than the number of contributors. Those recipients would have a vested interest in the perpetuation-- and enlargement--of their benefits.

I couldn't abolish those entitlement programs, but I could try to put the brakes on their rate of growth. I decided to ask Congress to impose a 5% ceiling on any increases in these various programs in the next year.

Source: A Time To Heal: The Autobiography of Gerald Ford, p.155-156 , Aug 27, 1974

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Other past presidents on Social Security: Gerald Ford on other issues:
Former Presidents:
Barack Obama(D,2009-2017)
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

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V.P.Joseph Biden
V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole

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Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022