Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing the Social Security Amendments.

August 29, 1958

I HAVE TODAY approved H. R. 13549, "To increase benefits under the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance System, to improve the actuarial status of the Trust funds of such System, and otherwise improve such System; to amend the public assistance and maternal and child health and welfare provisions of the Social Security Act; and for other purposes."

This act is a significant forward step in the old-age, survivors, and disability insurance program of the social security system. The increases in benefits and in the tax base are desirable in the light of changes in the economy since these provisions were last amended in 1954. The increase in social security contribution rates and the accelerated tax schedule in the bill will further strengthen the financial condition of this system in the years immediately ahead and over the long-term future. It is, of course, essential that the old-age, survivors, and disability insurance program, which is so vital to the economic security of the American people, remain financially sound and self-supporting.

The act also makes desirable changes which will permit Federal support for child welfare services where needed in urban areas and provides for State and local financial participation in the costs of this program on an improved basis.

In the public assistance programs the bill institutes the desirable principle of varying federal matching of costs in accordance with the relative fiscal capacity of each State as measured by per capita income. However, the effect of this change is very limited because the formula used results only in increases in the federal share. In addition, the introduction of averaging of benefits on an overall basis provides increases in the federal share, regardless of the fiscal ability of the State.

For the fifth time in twelve years legislation has been enacted providing an increase in the federal share of the costs of these programs and a decrease in the relative financial contribution of the States and communities. These successive increases have raised the federal share from about 45 percent in 1946 to an estimated 58.5 percent under this bill.

Increases in the proportion of the public assistance programs which are financed by the federal Government can lead only to a weakening of the responsibility of the States and communities. I believe deeply in the concept that the States and communities can best determine the actual needs of individuals and best administer programs of assistance to them-and that State and local financial responsibility in these programs should be strengthened, not weakened.

I am, accordingly, asking the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to deal specifically with this problem in the review of the public assistance programs which is now under way. It is my hope that the work of the Advisory Council on Public Assistance which is established by this bill will materially assist in the early development of constructive recommendations.


Note: As enacted, H. R. 13549 is Public Law 85-840 (72 Stat. 1013).

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Social Security Amendments. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233933

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