Published January 1969 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
From the Office of United States Senator Robert C. Byrd 105 Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510 Volume lX - Number 1 January 3, 1969 Byrd's Eye View A Public Service Column By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd SOCIAL SECURITY INCREASES NEEDED Now that the 91st Congress has convened, I will introduce legislation which would raise the minimum social security benefit from $55 to $80 per month and which would give all social security recipients an across-the-board increase of 8.5 percent. These increases would be financed by a direct contribution from the Federal government amounting to one percent of the present social security wage base of $7,800. The total federal contribution would amount to about $4 billion. In West Virginia, the increases would favorably affect 'more than 143,000 retired or disabled workers and their families who are currently receiving social security benefits. If passed into law, my bill will serve several important functions. First, the $3.3 billion to be paid out initially will help social security recipients keep up with the increased cost of living. That prices have gone up is not a welcome thought, but it is a fact and cannot be ignored. Additionally, placing these extra funds into the nation's marketplace will provide a sure buffer against recession. And, while it is true that general tax revenues will be called on to pay for this increase, it is also likely that the expenditure of these dollars by social security recipients will have a ''multiplier'' effect which will serve to generate many new tax dollars. As long as I have been a member of the Senate and before that, as a member of the House of Representatives, I have not only favored increases in Social Security benefits, but also a lowered age at which these benefits can be paid to retired persons and their dependents. In 1963, I was instrumental in getting the retirement age lowered from 65 to 62, though benefits, of course, must be actuarially reduced. Last year, I was able to persuade the Senate to further reduce this age to 60, although my proposal failed to get approval by the House. I believe that the Social Security System is one of the most important federal programs benefiting the American people today. It is my hope that the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over Social Security legislation, will take prompt action on my bill.