CES Report to the President
THE REPORT TO THE PRESIDENT
OF THE COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC SECURITY
The President's Committee on Economic Security (CES) was formed in June
1934 and was given the task of devising "recommendations concerning
proposals which in its judgment will promote greater economic security."
In a message to Congress two weeks earlier President Roosevelt spelled-out
what he expected the CES to achieve. ". . . I am looking for a
sound means which I can recommend to provide at once security against
several of the great disturbing factors in life--especially those which
relate to unemployment and old age."
The Committee's work was extraordinary in its scope and remarkable for its brevity. In barely six months the CES designed the first comprehensive federal social insurance program in the nation's history. Not everything contemplated by the CES at the outset made it into their final proposal, for example, health insurance was deferred for later study. And not everything in the CES proposal made it into the final law, for example, the proposal for voluntary old-age annuities did not survive Congressional review. But the Report of the CES was the basic blueprint for what would come to be the Social Security Act. The work of the CES was in many ways historic and in some ways heroic. One of the participants in this watershed undertaking, Thomas Eliot, in his posthumously published memoir, described his work with the CES in this way: "And what was it like, to be there? The best way to answer that question is to quote Wordsworth: 'Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, And to be young was very Heaven.' "
Editorial Note: The basic text of the original
CES report to the President was 50 printed pages, with an Appendix containing
a list of Committee members and 19 additional tables of data. It is reproduced
here in its entirety, along with the Committee's Transmittal Letter to
President Roosevelt and the President's Transmittal Letter sending the
Report to the Congress.
The full work of the CES was contained in 10 large volumes of reports and studies, which were never published. In 1937, two years after passage of the Social Security Act, the new Social Security Board published a summary of all 10 volumes of the Committee's work. This book, "Social Security In America," published in 1937, contains the Appendix and Tables from the original CES report, and a great deal more besides. The basic report itself, however, was not reprinted . In 1985 a small 50th anniversary commemorative edition of the CES report was privately published by the National Conference on Social Welfare. Their book, entitled "50th Anniversary Edition: The Report of the Committee on Economic Security of 1935," contains the text of the basic CES report, without the Appendix and Tables.
So we are republishing here, for only the second time since 1935, the full text of the original Report To The President of the Committee on Economic Security as it was transmitted to the President in January 1935. (Note: the Appendix with its supplemental tables is available as JPEG image files only.) This is a foundational historical document, the basis of the Social Security Act of 1935 and all the programs that it entailed.
[Table 1 printed in Report proper]