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Social Security Experts

Social Security Observes 75th Anniversary

UC Riverside experts available to discuss the history and impacts of the act.

(July 30, 2010)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Americans today take Social Security for granted, despite concerns about the fiscal health of the program on which many retirees depend. Signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt 75 years ago, the Social Security Act represented a significant departure from American tradition that stressed volunteerism and self-reliance. Today, Social Security is the largest expenditure in the federal budget, providing benefits to retirees, surviving spouses and children, and the disabled.

As the Aug. 14 anniversary of the signing of the Social Security Act nears, these experts from the University of California, Riverside are available to discuss the history and consequences of this legislation:

Mason Gaffney, professor of economics
(951) 827-1574

Introducing the payroll tax into federal finance to fund Social Security has had unintended consequences, notably use of that revenue stream to lower progressive taxes (such as income tax rates). “The impact has been to replace a somewhat progressive tax system with a highly regressive one (where the tax rate decreases as the amount subject to taxation increases) – quite at odds with the original egalitarian intent of Social Security,” Gaffney says. “One result we observe is the growing concentration of wealth and income in the U.S.A.”

Richard Sutch, distinguished professor of economics emeritus

Richard Sutch is an expert on the history of Social Security. He co-edited Historical Statistics of the United States: Earlier Times to the Present, Millennial Edition, a five-volume set published by Cambridge University Press that won a Dartmouth Medal, Honorable Mention for an outstanding reference work and was the Library Journal’s Best of Reference in 2006. It is the standard source for statistics about American history, ranging from population and voting patterns to energy, abortions and Vietnam veterans.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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