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I am now taking the next step: What are we going to do about it in terms of today?
Representative Curtis. Mr. Millikin, there are those who would come in and say, “Abolish this system and do nothing."
Senator MILLIKIN. That is not going to be done. You know it and I know it and everybody else knows it. So let us get down to what we can do now.
Representative CURTIS. Yes. Let us do for all of them now and see what it costs, and fix it so the American people can control that cost.
The people that I deal with, when I get back home, are smarter than a lot of folks in Washington think. If they say that a 4-percent rate of tax on their first $3,000 is not quite enough to pay these old people, and they want to raise it to 4 or to 6 and add $10 to each one of these checks, they can. But if the sentiment swings the other way and if they think these people are getting too much, they will say so.
Senator MILLIKIN. Do you favor the continuance of the so-called insurance contribution or would you pay out of general revenue?
Representative Curtis. May I read my last paragraph?
of course. Representative CURTIS. This should be followed by a thorough and objective study of the program. With due regard to the high caliber and public spirit of the individuals comprising the various advisory councils on social security, I regret these councils have not been able to make a more thorough reexamination of the fundamentals. Each council has been composed of experts in their own fields, who, being extremely busy men in these outisde fields, could not take the necessary time to make such reexamination; consequently, acceptance of the proposals developed by the Social Security Administration staff members became an almost inevitable course.
I feel a study should be made by a group consisting largely of persons who can devote full time for several months to the work, who are largely technicians in this field, and who at the same time are fully independent of administration pressure. Only in this way can a wholly objective and thorough chart be laid for future development.
Senator MILLIKIN. When we were setting up the advisory council to the Senate Committee on Finance, I spent a lot of time trying to find those technicians. The cold fact of the matter is that the basic information is alone in the possession of the Social Security Agency. There is no private actuary for any insurance company, including the biggest, that can give you the complete picture on this subject.
Representative CURTIS. That is correct.
Senator MILLIKIN. I know what I am talking about because I tried to get that kind of people.
Representative Curtis. Yes. I think those men who have the background that could adapt themselves to that work will have to be engaged for a longer period of time and not be called in as consultants or advisers, but be put to work with the information.
Senator MILLIKIN. Ironically, they would have to go over to the Social Security Agency and get their information. There is no place else to get it. The insurance companies do not have it.
Representative CURTIS. That is true.
Senator MilliKIN. They have no source of information, roughly speaking, except the Social Security Agency.
Representative CURTIS. Understand, Senator, the criticism I made was neither at the resolution or legislation calling for these councils or the men who serve on them, but they sit in in an advisory capacity.
Senator MILLIKIN. I think you have an excellent point, Congressman, if you could do something about it. But the question is, What are you going to do about it?
Representative CURTIS. I think it can be done, Mr. Millikin. I think technicians who absolutely had no other responsibility, with no outside activity or responsibility at all, who, if necessary, had to go into the places where the information exists; but they would do their own tabulating, their own questioning of the figures and the conclusions to be drawn therefrom. I am not ready to admit, Mr. Millikin, that there is not anyone that can investigate this thing.
Senator MillikIN. I spent a whole summer working on that problem, sweating here in Washington when I did not have sense enough to stay in the Senate Office Building, trying to find those kinds of people, and I finally—by the admission of the people in private busi
-had to give up the job because those people were not available. They did not have them.
For example, with respect to a big insurance company, you would think offhand, “My goodness, they must have the skills in here, that is the combined skills to deal with a problem of this kind." But they do not have them.
Representative CURTIS. Mr. Millikin, I think this situation is so grave that we have got to take off the gloves and call a spade a spade. There are certain individuals connected with large business who, for selfish reasons, like this sort of thing. They have built up a big staff within the corporation to advise the management on this tangled problem as to who is an employee and who is not; and the result is that they have a group that can be indispensable because of the web that is put around them by the Government. So you are going to have some people among so-called large business that are not going to make much of a contribution.
Senator Millikin. May I make this suggestion to you, Congrear man! You would probably be amazed if you knew how many of the big fellows in the insurance world in private conversation favor esactly what you are talking about.
Representative CURTIS. Yes. The Senator was faced with a difficult thing for a hurry-up job in a few months. It was an approach for someone to advise on social security. These councils end up with people who are extremely busy. They rush in here for a few hours and the result is, "This sounds agreeable" and they sign the report. I want an investigation committee which will not sign anybody's report but will make one.
Senator Millikin. Congressman, you are a little in error, if I might respectfully suggest.
Representative CURTIS. I stand corrected, sir. Senator Millikin. I may say that Senator George and I kept the wires busy all the time in cooperating completely on this problem. Those members of the council came from all over the United States They attended the meetings, and they came here repeatedly. Thes averaged a meeting every 2 months over a period of from 1947 to the end of 1948. Many of them were technically skilled in this busines but, as I say, they were trained in a limited sphere of interests. There is no denying that.
I want to emphasize again that they may have reached wrong conclusions. This committee has never adopted their conclusions, and I am not offended at all by what you say. I recognize the strength of most of what you say. I am simply trying to point out to you that there was a good-faith effort by top-flight citizens to reach conclusions, and they just did not sign something that was handed to them. I have seen them in session debating this thing all the way around the table point by point in numerous meetings held here in Washington where they dropped their business and had come here from all over the country. That is what I am trying to get over. I am not saying their conclusions are right. We have to decide that ultimately.
Representative CURTIS. I did not see your council in work, Senator. I have heard some of them testify and I have cross-examined them. Now, understand, I am not to do the questioning, but as a matter of information, Senator, when they met every 2 months, for how long did they meet?
Senator MILLIKIN. They stayed for 2 days.
Senator MILLIKIN. They had a staff that was the best staff we could get. They had a staff that had the thing laid out for them. I have seen them take it, point by point.
Representative Curtis. I want the responsibility not on people who will come to Washington a couple of days every 2 months. I want the responsibility for a study of this by people who will spend 48 hours a week for 52 or 104 weeks, if necessary.
Senator Millikin. You will have to go over to a lamasery in Tibet to find that kind of people, because if you are going to have good people they have some other things to do.
Representative CURTIS. I realize that, Senator, and I hope that I have not been offensive in my criticism of these things. But I think the program is so big and so far reaching that that has got to be done.
Senator MILLIKIN. Now let me read you this membership. There was the late Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., who was on the original council that evolved the first Social Security Act. Then Sumner H. Slichter. I think if you search the whole United States, or if you had a convention of all economists in the United States, Sumner Slichter would get the top vote as the top fellow in the whole business.
Next, Frank Bane, executive director of the Council of State Governments. Now, there is a gentleman who has been working with the problems of State governments and the relation of State governments to the Federal Government, and this problem involves those relationships. You could not have gotten a better man, I suggest.
J. Douglas Brown, dean of the faculty, Princeton University, a college professor. Well, it is not necessarily a sin to be a college professor. Some of them are pretty wise gentlemen.
Here is Malcolm Bryan, vice chairman of board, Trust Co. of Georgia. There is a practical businessman with a background of interest in social security.
Then, Nelson H, Cruikshank, director of social-insurance activities, American Federation of Labor, an outstanding expert in the business. He may have his own particular viewpoints, and undoubtedly has, but he is smart and knows what he is talking about.
Then, Mary H. Donlon, chairman of the New York State Workmen's Compensation Board, a very outstanding lady in social-security matters.
Next, Adrien J. Falk, president of S. & W. Fine Foods, Inc., an outstanding western businessman and leader in public affairs.
Marion B. Folsom, treasurer of Eastman Kodak Co., who was on the first Advisory Council, a smart man especially skilled in socialsecurity matters.
Then, M. Albert Linton, president of the Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. He is not ignorant in this business.
Then you have John Miller, assistant director of the National Planning Association, and William I. Myers, dean of the New York State College of Agriculture. There are a lot of agricultural problems to be considered in this business.
Also, Emil Rieve, president of the Textile Workers' Union and vice president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations. If you ever had him on the stand and cross-examined him, you found out that he knows his way around.
Then there is Florence R. Sabin, of Colorado, I am glad to say, a great scientist.
You also have S. Abbot Smith, who had been head of a small business organization, and a New England manufacturer.
You have Delos Walker, vice president of R. H. Macy & Co., a great expert in personnel.
And also, Ernest C. Young, dean of the graduate school of Purdue University.
I run through all of that to disabuse your mind, I hope, of any thought that we picked up a bunch of stumblebums to work on this problem.
Representative CURTIS. Oh, no, Senator. I would pay the highest tribute to those men as citizens and as successful people in their fields.
I raise two objections: One is that their field has not been social security, and the other one is that they cannot do it in 2 days out of every 2 months. It is not that kind of a job.
Senator MILLIKIN. Now, I have a note here from a gentleman of our staff who reminds me that we had an interim committee made up of the members I read you about, who went over every proposal between the main meetings and they submitted their data in constant liaison with the main staff, so that when the main committee met they did not plunge coldly into these problems. There had been a preliminary sifting by this interim committee.
Representative CURTIS. I understand that.
Senator Millikin. Where you are puzzling me is: Where are we going to get the kind of fellows you are talking about? I agree ii it could be done it would be the perfect thing to do, but I am trying to get a little enlightenment on how to do it.
Representative Curtis. I am not ready to name names, Mr. Millikin, but I think it could be done. I certainly would not want this recon to close with anything that I said indicating that these were not altstanding citizens. They were. I cannot agree with their conclusions, and I do not think that if, as individuals, they would shut themselves off from the rest of the world and study the problem for 60 days alone. they would come up with the same conclusions.
Senator MILLIKIN. I am not agreeing with their conclusions. We are checking their conclusions in this hearing.
With respect to the question I asked you formerly, would you sustain your plan with so-called insurance contribution by worker and employer, or would you take it out of general revenues ?
Representative Curtis. No; I would have a tax. Whether or not you had that on both the employer and employee, you may want to study that a little bit. If so, it should be collected as other withholding taxes are collected. I definitely would not keep the wage-record system.
Senator MilliKIN. What is bothering me is that if we are going to take every one in 65 years or older, we will be taking in the whole citizenry, so why have a special tax? Why not pay it out of general revenue. In other words, in order to get away from these phony insurance principles to which you refer.
Representative Curtis. Yes. I think this, Senator: I think there would be some merit in having a tax identified for that purpose so that the people who are not recipients would understand what it was costing and how it was being paid, and the recipients themselves would know how this was being paid by their neighbors and their friends and relatives.
Senator Tarr. How can you grade the benefits for different people without having kept a wage record ?
Representative Curtis. Well, you do not do it now.
Representative Curtis. Well, yes. Here is the point. We have spent a lot of money keeping wage records during the last 13 years. H. R. 6000 disregards that. It revises the benefits and says that they are unrealistic in the light of present need, and Dr. Slichter said that we should periodically do that. Now, back in my law office in Nebraska I might hire a girl for 3 months and then she gets married and quits working. But we have paid a small amount of social-security tax. That account has to be maintained probably for 90 years. Then when it comes to a show-down, we know that the Congress is going to fix benefits at such economic and political level as is necessary.
Senator TAFT. But with some relation to what that person has earned during his or her life. It seems to me that is a principle I do not want to abandon.
Representative Curtis. That is the thing I do want to abandon, Senator Taft, for this reason: At the present time, as I pointed out in my statement, you are paying the $250-a-month man a benefit of $16 a month more than the $100-a-month man. Actuarially, he has paid for $2.47–
Senator Tart. I understand all of the inequalities, and I agree that the benefits have very little relation to what you earned during your life; but they have some relation, and that relation is one that I do not want to entirely abandon. I hate to go to a flat pension, let us put it that way. Otherwise, I more or less agree with you all the way through
Senator MillikIN. I might suggest that the Congressman has cut through all the inequalities by suggesting a pay-as-you-go system and some flat pension. I would rather go your route, if it can be done, than to go through all of the jiggling around of wage records and