The Republican record on Social Security
Then VP George H.W. Bush and President Ronald Reagan, leaders in the GOP war on Social Security. | AP

1935: Almost all Republicans in Congress oppose the creation of Social Security.

1939: 75 percent of Republicans in Senate try to kill legislation providing Social Security benefits to dependents and survivors as well as retired workers.

1950: 79 percent of House and 89 percent of Senate Republicans vote against disability insurance to defeat it.

1956: 86 percent of Republicans in Senate oppose disability insurance; program approved nonetheless.

1964: Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater and future president Ronald Reagan both suggest that Social Security be made voluntary.

1965: 93 percent of Republicans in House and 62 percent in Senate vote to kill Medicare.

1977: 58 percent of Senate votes against amendment to provide semiannual increases.

1977: 88 percent of Republicans in House and 63 percent in Senate vote against an increase in Social Security payroll tax needed to keep the system solvent.

1981: President Reagan proposes $35 billion in Social Security cuts over the next 5 years. The cuts would have included the elimination of student benefits, lump-sum death benefits, and a retroactive elimination of the $122 minimum benefit for three million recipients. (Congress ultimately enacted $24 billion of the proposed cuts.)

1981: Reagan administration begins a wholesale review of the Social Security Disability rolls, resulting in over 560,000 eligibility investigations in 1982 — 360,000 more than the year before. Ultimately, at least 106,000 families were removed from the rolls.

1981: 99 percent of Republicans in House and 98 percent in Senate vote for legislation containing $22 billion in Social Security and Medicare cuts.

1981: Reagan administration proposes a three-month delay in 1982 cost-of-living increases.

1981: Reagan administration proposes $200 billion in Social Security cuts between 1982 and 1990. The cuts include a reduction in early retirement benefit; tightened disability eligibility standards; delay in the 1982 cost-of-living adjustment and a 10 percent eventual reduction in benefits for all new retirees. (The U.S. Senate repudiated the President’s proposals by a vote of 96 to 0.)

1982: President Reagan and Senate Republicans propose $40 billion in benefit cuts over three fiscal years.

1985: Reagan administration backs attempts by Republican Senate leadership to eliminate the 1986 Social Security COLA. Vice President Bush casts the tie-breaking vote to eliminate COLA. (House defeats it – it was never enacted.)

1990s: Efforts to end Social Security took the form of appealing to younger workers to put “their” Social Security insurance payments into the stock market.

2005: A Labor-led fight against privatization saved Social Security for the time being.

2006: President George W. Bush, once again, includes privatization of Social Security in his 2007 budget.

Source: AFL-CIO



The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) represents people who work. We are the umbrella federation for U.S. unions, with 55 unions representing more than 12.5 million working men and women.