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Dwight D. Eisenhower on Abolishing Social Security

Netlore Archive: A quote attributed to President Dwight D. Eisenhower stating that any political party attempting to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, labor laws, and farm programs would never be heard of again.

Description: Forwarded email
Circulating since: Feb. 2005 (in this form)
Status: Authentic (see details below)

Example:
Email text contributed by an AOL user, May 8, 2005:

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, l952-----


Analysis: Circulating via forwarded email, this is one of several abridged versions of an actual statement by President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961). The original passage, from a letter Eisenhower wrote to his brother Edgar on Nov. 8, 1954, went as follows:

Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.

If Eisenhower, a committed if comparatively moderate Republican, were alive today he might well object to the way his words have been appropriated. Those who quote the passage clearly mean to imply that it's applicable to current Republican luminaries like President George W. Bush, whose proposals for Social Security reform have included reducing future benefits for senior citizens. As it happens, Bush is also a "Texas oil millionaire."

But Bush has never proposed abolishing Social Security, nor has he proposed eliminating unemployment insurance, labor laws, or farm programs. Hence, the tacit suggestion that Bush and fellow-traveling Republicans ought to be counted among those described as "stupid" by Eisenhower is a transparent, if deft, example of partisan hyperbole.


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Sources and further reading:

Letter from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Edgar N. Eisenhower, 8 Nov. 1954
The Presidential Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower

Bush Social Security Plan Would Cut Future Benefits
Washington Post, 29 April 2005


Last updated: 05/09/05


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