Three principles should be observed in legislation on this subject. First, the system adopted, except for the money necessary to initiate it, should be self-sustaining in the sense that funds for the payment of insurance benefits should not come from the proceeds of general taxation. Second, excepting in old-age insurance, actual management should be left to the States subject to standards established by the Federal Government. Third, sound financial management of the funds and the reserves, and protection of the credit structure of the Nation should be assured by retaining Federal control over all funds through trustees in the Treasury of the United States. FDR Message to Congress January 1935
The Act does not offer anyone, either individually or collectively, an easy life–nor was it ever intended so to do. None of the sums of money paid out to individuals in assistance or in insurance will spell anything approaching abundance. But they will furnish that minimum necessity to keep a foothold; and that is the kind of protection Americans want. FRD radio address August 1938
“We put those payroll contributions there so as to give the contributors a legal, moral and political right to collect their pensions. … No damn politician can ever scrap my Social Security program.” FDR.
Of course, much of FDRs vision has been changed by Congress over the years. Worker contributions (taxes) do not pay for the worker’s benefits, but for current beneficiaries. Today there are even calls to pay benefits by simply printing money, some advocates want higher benefits paid for by a small segment of workers, and Congress has failed to raise payroll taxes to match growing obligations and changing demographics.