Among our objectives I place the security of the men, women and children of the Nation first. . . . Fear and worry based on unknown danger contribute to social unrest and economic demoralization. If, as our Constitution tells us, our Federal Government was established among other things, "to promote the general welfare," it is our plain duty to provide for that security upon which welfare depends.
--President Franklin D. Roosevelt, "Message to Congress, June 8, 1934"
With these words, Roosevelt made public his preliminary plans for legislation to provide lasting measures of economic security to Americans. Anxious about his prospects for reelection in 1936, Roosevelt wanted to proceed quickly on the development and passage of a bill for social provision. By the end of June 1934, he appointed a cabinet committee called the Committee on Economic Security (CES) to study economic security concerns, develop recommendations, and draft legislative proposals that could be sent to Congress within six months. The Social Security Act, which Roosevelt signed into law in August 1935, was unprecedented in scope by American standards and remains today the most comprehensive social policy creation in U.S. political history. By combining several programs into one law, the act effectively established an entire social welfare apparatus, intended to reach, eventually, the lives of the majority of citizens. The major components of the statute include contributory Old Age Insurance (which has come to be called "social security"), noncontributory Old Age Assistance for the elderly, Unemployment Insurance, and Aid to Dependent Children.1____________________