Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969

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Author: Lyndon B. Johnson  | Date: July 17, 1968

397
Statement by the President Following a Meeting With the 24 Millionth Social Security Beneficiary.
July 17, 1968

THE ADDITION of Mr. Owen’s name to the benefit rolls is more than a statistical milestone. The real significance of this program—for him, and for millions of other Americans—lies in the independence, the peace of mind, and the dignity which the program guarantees.

Thirty-three years ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the first social security law, calling it the "cornerstone in a structure which is being built but which is by no means complete."

When the social security program was first considered in the Congress, I recall, there were prophecies of "gloom and doom" from opponents of the program. None of these prophecies came true.

They said the program would impair private pension plans. Instead, the number of private pension plans has increased a hundredfold. They said it would undermine the virtue of thrift. But today we have more savings and more savers than ever before. Social security today is the basic plan uponwhich individual savings and private pension plans are based. It is a basic part of the American way of life.

It gives me great pride that in the past 4 1/2 years, we have built a great structure around that cornerstone. To the basic social security structure, we have added amendments including:
—a law establishing the historic Medicare program;
—laws increasing social security benefits an average of 23 percent;
—laws establishing new benefit categories, and adding hundreds of thousands of new beneficiaries to the rolls;
—laws increasing the amount which a beneficiary can earn without losing benefits.

But a third of a century after the signing of the original Social Security Act, the structure is still "by no means complete." I am convinced that the program should be improved further. Benefits should be still higher; the minimum monthly benefit should be $70 for an individual and $105 for a couple. The disabled should be included under Medicare. I have proposed these and other changes to the Congress, and I hope to see them enacted.

The Medicare program which now protects 20 million aged persons has been an outstanding success. The dire predictions of those who opposed the system have not come true. But soaring medical costs could erode the protection that has been established. Immediate steps must be taken to stem this dangerous inflation. I recommended to the Congress earlier this year that the Secretary of HEW be authorized to employ new methods of payments under the Medicare and Medicaid programs. These methods should be tested and put to work as soon as they prove effective in providing high quality medical care more efficiently and less expensively. I urge the Congress to take action on this legislation now.

It was a pleasure to meet Mr. and Mrs. Owen today. They are symbols of a system that works for the enduring good of every American citizen.

NOTE: The President’s statement was made public as part of a White House release announcing that he had met with Mr. and Mrs. William F. Owen of Richmond, Va. The release added that Mr. Owen, a semi-retired automobile painter and metalworker, began to receive social security benefits of $230.40 per month in May 1968.

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Chicago: Lyndon B. Johnson, "397 Statement by the President Following a Meeting With the 24 Millionth Social Security Beneficiary.," Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.1369 821. Original Sources, accessed July 21, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=1GW77WY9TFNQHWS.

MLA: Johnson, Lyndon B. "397 Statement by the President Following a Meeting With the 24 Millionth Social Security Beneficiary." Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.1369, page 821. Original Sources. 21 Jul. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=1GW77WY9TFNQHWS.

Harvard: Johnson, LB, '397 Statement by the President Following a Meeting With the 24 Millionth Social Security Beneficiary.' in Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.1369, pp.821. Original Sources, retrieved 21 July 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=1GW77WY9TFNQHWS.