This Day in History — Nixon Expands Social Security and Medicare Benefits for Seniors

On October 30, 1969 Richard Nixon signed landmark social security and Medicare legislation increasing much needed benefits to widowed seniors who now receive 100 percent of their deceased spouses Social Security benefits, and extended medical coverage to 1.5 million beneficiaries. The following is Nixon’s radio address broadcast the same day the legislation was passed:

Good afternoon:

A President signs many bills, but one that I signed today gave me special satisfaction because of the enormous impact it can have on the lives of millions of individual Americans.

I refer to the legislation known as H.R. 1–and especially to its provisions for helping, older Americans. Many of these provisions grew out of recommendations which I have been urging the Congress to act on for several years.

Let’s look at some of the things H.R. 1 will do:

First, nearly 4 million widows and widowers will get larger social security benefits–the full 100 percent of what was payable to the individual’s late husband or wife. This will mean more than $1 billion in additional income for these deserving people in the next fiscal year.

Second, over a million and a half older Americans who are now working can earn more income without having their benefits reduced.

Until today, if you were receiving social security, every dollar you earned above $1,680 cost you 50 cents in benefits–and every dollar you earned above $2,880 cost you a full dollar. But under the new provision-which I have advocated for years–you can earn up to $2,100 without losing a cent of social security, and every dollar you earn above that $2,100–no matter how many–will cost you only 50 cents in benefits. This will encourage more older Americans to work–helping them and helping the country. (Continue Reading)

On that same note, as baby boomers are reaching retirement age, extending these same benefits adequately is an ongoing subject of debate especially with America’s dwindling population replacement levels.

John Fout of thestreet.com wants to see sparks fly on Social Security and Medicare solvency tonight at the Democratic debate:

After the Sept. 26 Democratic debate in New Hampshire, I criticized moderator Tim Russert for the way he addressed entitlements. Not only did he obscure the issue for the public, he also tried to force the candidates to accept a solution: raise taxes. Russert and Clinton’s challengers need to improve their discussion on entitlements tonight.

Social Security and Medicare share a strain from aging baby boomers, but there’s an immediate crisis in Medicare. The trustees for Medicare say it will run out of money in 2019 — just 12 short years from now.

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