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The Elderly and Aging
Excerpts from Speeches       Proceedings and Debates       Hearings       Committee prints and reports


Early in his Senate career, Senator Mondale established his position regarding older citizens when he said, "The aged should not have to live in a world where dignity and pride are sacrificed for survival, where contentment is an unattainable luxury, and where hope is a myth and a mockery."[1]89th Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 111 (July 9, 1965) at 16145. Through hearings he conducted as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Retirement and the Individual, Senator Mondale became convinced of the need for people to prepare for retirement. He likened the failure to prepare to that of "allowing a child to grow to the age of 20 without schooling or training and then expecting him to be able to find a decent job and make a satisfactory adjustment in the work-a-day world." He emphasized the need to recognize retirement as a "distinct phase of life" and one of "life's toughest adjustments" and that "retirement from a job need not lead to retirement from life."[2]91st Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 115 (July 7, 1969) at 18419. Senator Mondale introduced a bill in the 91st, 92nd, 93rd and 94th Congresses to provide federal employees with pre-retirement counseling and assistance and he introduced a bill in the 90th and 91st Congresses to establish an Institute on Retirement Income that would help "retired individuals to enjoy an adequate retirement income."

Senator Mondale was also a strong proponent for raising Social Security benefits and keeping Medicare and Medicaid premiums down. He was a strong and vocal opponent to any legislation that proposed raising premiums or cutting benefits, arguing that "older Americans, who have contributed a lifetime of work to this society, who have endured the depression and World War II, most of whom contributed to Social Security for years in anticipation of a dignified retirement, should not be humiliated in their latter years by lack of a minimum adequate income."[3]92nd Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 117 (July 20, 1971) at 26133. He was disappointed in the Social Security Amendments of 1967 Conference Report (H.R. 12080) calling it "one of the most backward, repressive, medieval pieces of legislation we have seen in a long time."[4]90th Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 113 (December 8, 1967) at 35640. It granted a 12-1/2 percent increase to benefits rather than the 20 percent Senator Kennedy (D-MA) proposed and it did not protect against the cost of prescription medicines. He said that the legislation was "a sorry response to the needs of the elderly, the disabled, the blind, and the poor."[5]90th Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 113 (December 14, 1967): at 36813.

He was a vocal critic of President Nixon's attempts to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits in the 1970s. When he introduced S. 3512, a fifteen-part plan that included protecting Social Security beneficiaries from inflation by automatically adjusting benefits, raising benefits by 25 percent, and getting rid of some premiums, he argued that "there is a serious danger that the elderly will be hoodwinked out of a large part of the benefit increase they deserve, and which the country can afford. This may happen because President Nixon wants to use a large chunk of the money which should go to the elderly to hide his huge budget deficits. This is completely unfair to our senior citizens."[6]92nd Cong., 2nd sess., Congressional Record 118 (April 19, 1972): at 13381. And when Congress voted in favor of a 20 percent increase "across-the-board," he supported Senate Resolution 367, preventing President Nixon from getting credit for the increase. Senator Mondale stated, "It has been the consistent view of this administration that it is somehow 'fiscally irresponsible' to make life decent and bearable for millions of elderly Americans. In light of this record, there is no justification for President Nixon claiming credit for the increase they will find in their social security envelopes in October."[7]92nd Cong., 2nd sess., Congressional Record 118 (September 19, 1972) at 31139. He continued to fight against President Nixon's attempts to raise Medicare premiums by introducing Senate Concurrent Resolution 18, which expressed opposition to the President's proposed cuts and called the President's attempts "another example of the mistaken priorities of this administration."[8]93rd Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 119 (March 1, 1973): at 6088.

In addition to supporting legislation that provided financial security for the elderly, Senator Mondale also focused on legislation that would provide a better quality of life for the elderly. He was a strong proponent of community programs and continuing education for the elderly. He cosponsored S. 3181 in the 92nd Congress, establishing of an Office for the Aging in the Office of the President, and he cosponsored S. 3926, establishing the National Senior Service Corps. Towards the end of the 94th Congress, his last full session, Senator Mondale introduced S. 2497, amending the Higher Education Act of 1975 to encourage programs in lifetime learning. In his introduction, he states, "Senior citizens ... have often been excluded from the academic community in the past. They would be offered exciting new alternatives through participation in educational programs. In a society with a population of 23 million over the age of 65, and increasing life expectancy, the significance of providing productive options for the elderly cannot be overestimated."[9]94th Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 121 (October 8, 1975) at 32182.

Through his support for and introduction of legislation to provide financial security and quality of life for the elderly, Senator Mondale ensured that, indeed, "The aged should not have to live in a world where dignity and pride are sacrificed for survival, where contentment is an unattainable luxury, and where hope is a myth and a mockery."[10]89th Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 111 (July 9, 1965): at 16146.

 

Excerpts from Senator Mondale's speeches on the elderly and aging: [Top]



"The institution of retirement has been described as one of life's toughest adjustments. About 5 million Americans, 65 and over, live in poverty. But the retiree has much more to learn than how to live on a substantially reduced income. He suddenly discovers that retirement involves a psychological adjustment far greater than he had anticipated. In a society which he learns is work oriented and youth oriented, he loses his incentive and finally, too often, his reason for living. His life too frequently is aimless and lonely, and the extra years that science has added in longevity are only an extra burden." 91st Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 115 (February 7, 1969) at 3239-3240.


"I believe that retirement from a job need not lead to retirement from life." 91st Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 115 (July 7, 1969) at 18419.


President Lyndon Johnson (right) Secretary of HEW John Gardner (second from left) and SSA Commissioner Bob Ball (left) received the first Medicare Part-B application form from a member of the general public, Mr. Tony Palcaorolla, 1965; credit: Social Security Administration History Archives

"To grow old and retire in the United States today is to surrender rather than gain independence. In 1935, when the Social Security Act became law, President Roosevelt regarded it as the beginning of a 'supreme achievement' of national legislation. Thirty-six years later, this Government has not redeemed that promise. We have not protected the economic trust of senior Americans; we have rather seen their rewards for labor eroded, and millions of older citizens have become imprisoned in poverty." 92nd Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 117 (March 16, 1971) at 6596.



President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Medicare Bill at the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, 1965; credit: Lyndon Baines Johnson Library

"The Medicare amendments of 1971 offer the 92nd Congress a major opportunity to show that human concerns come first in its order of priorities, and that the pressing needs of older Americans will be met." 92nd Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 117 (March 23, 1971) at 7390.


Senator Walter Mondale speaks to 100 members of New Ulm, Minnesota's Golden Age Club on the steps of the United States Capitol, 1970; credit: Minnesota Historical Society

 

 

 

"Older Americans, who have contributed a lifetime of work to this society, who have endured the depression and World War II, most of whom contributed to social security for years in anticipation of a dignified retirement, should not be humiliated in their latter years by lack of a minimum adequate income. It is clear that inflation, rising property taxes, and increasing medical costs can deprive millions of senior Americans of a decent retirement life, if there is no compensating income protection." 92nd Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 117 (July 20, 1971) at 26133.

Selected U.S. Senate proceedings and debates on the elderly and aging, 1965-1976: [Top]
U.S. Senate hearings on aging in which Senator Mondale participated: [Top]
  • Retirement and the Individual: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Retirement and the Individual, pt. 1, 90th Cong. (1967).

  • Retirement and the Individual: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Retirement and the Individual, pt. 2, 90th Cong. (1967).

  • Long-Range Program and Research Needs in Aging and Related Fields: Hearings Before the Special Committee on Aging, 90th Cong. (1967).

  • Costs and Delivery of Health Services to Older Americans: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Health of the Elderly, pt. 1, 90th. Cong. (1967).

  • The Federal Role in Encouraging Preretirement Counseling and New Work Lifetime Patterns: Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Retirement and the Individual, 91st Cong. (1969).

  • Trends in Long-Term Care: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Long-Term Care, pt. 19A, 92nd Cong. (1971).

  • Social Services Regulations: Hearings Before the Committee on Finance, pt. 2, 93rd Cong. (1973).

  • Barriers to Health Care for Older Americans: Hearings Before the Special Committee on Aging, pt. 9, 93rd Cong. (1974).

  • Extension of Nutrition Programs for the Elderly, 1974: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Aging, 93rd Cong. (1974).

  • National Nutrition Policy, 1974: Hearing Before the Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, 93rd Cong. (1974).

  • Barriers to Health Care for Older Americans: Hearings Before the Special Committee on Aging, pt. 13, 93rd Cong. (1974).

  • Barriers to Health Care for Older Americans: Hearings Before the Special Committee on Aging, pt. 14, 93rd Cong. (1974).

  • National Nutrition Policy Study-1974: Nutrition and Special Groups: Hearings Before the Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, pt. 3, 93rd Cong. (1974).

  • Lifetime Learning Act, 1975: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Education, 94th Cong. (1975).

Selected Senate committee prints and reports on the elderly and aging: [Top]

    Committee Prints

  • Staff of Subcomm. on Employment and Retirement Incomes, 90thCong., Reduction of Retirement Benefits Due to Social Security Increases. Report Together with Minority Views (Comm. Print 1967).

  • Staff of the Special Comm. on Aging, 92nd Cong., Action on Aging Legislation in 92d Congress (Comm. Print 1972).

  • Staff of the Comm. on Labor and Public Welfare and Special Comm. on Aging, 92nd Cong., Legislative History of the Older Americans Comprehensive Services Amendments of 1972 (Comm. Print 1972).

  • Staff of Comm. on Finance, 92nd Cong., H.R. 1. Social Security Amendments of 1972. Brief Description of Senate Amendments (Comm. Print 1972).

  • Staff of Comm. on Finance, 92nd Cong., Summary of Social Security Amendments of 1972: Public Law 92-603 (H.R. 1) (Comm. Print 1972).

  • Staff of Comm. on Finance, 93rd Cong., H.R. 3153, Social Security Amendments of 1973 (Comm. Print 1973).

  • Staff of the Comm. on Labor and Public Welfare and Special Comm. on Aging, 93rd Cong., Post-White House Conference on Aging Reports, 1973: Towards a New Attitude on Aging-Apr. 1973; and Final Report of the Post-Conference Board of the 1971 Conference on Aging-June 1973 (Comm. Print 1973).

  • Staff of the Special Comm. on Aging, 94th Cong., Action on Aging Legislation in 93d Congress (Comm. Print 1975).

  • Staff of the Special Comm. on Aging, 94th Cong., Action on Aging Legislation in 94th Congress (Comm. Print 1976).

  • Committee Reports

  • Special Comm. on Aging, Developments in Aging, 1969, S. Rep. No. 91-875 (1970).

  • Comm. on Finance, Social Security Amendments of 1970, S. Rep. No. 91-1431 (1970).

  • Special Comm. on Aging, Economics of Aging: Toward a Full Share in Abundance, S. Rep. No. 91-1548 (1970).

  • Special Comm. on Aging, Developments in Aging, 1970, S. Rep. No. 92-46 (1971).

  • Special Comm. on Aging, Pre-White House Conference on Aging. Summary of Developments and Data, S. Rep. No. 92-505 (1971).

  • Special Comm. on Aging, Developments in Aging: 1971 and January-March 1972, S. Rep. No. 92-784 (1972).

  • Comm. on Finance, Social Security Amendments of 1972, S. Rep. No. 92-1230 (1972).

  • Special Comm. on Aging, Rise and Threatened Fall of Service Programs for the Elderly, S. Rep. No. 93-94 (1973).

  • Special Comm. on Aging, Developments in Aging: 1972 and January-March 1973, S. Rep. No. 93-147 (1973).

  • Comm. on Finance, Social Security Amendments of 1973, S. Rep. No. 93-553 (1973).

  • Special Comm. on Aging, Developments in Aging: 1973 and January-March 1974, S. Rep. No. 93-846 (1974).

  • Special Comm. on Aging, Developments in Aging: 1974 and January-March 1975, S. Rep. No. 94-250 (1975).

  • Special Comm. on Aging, Developments in Aging: 1975 and January-May 1976: Part 1 and Part 2, S. Rep. No. 94-998 (1976).

  • Documents

  • Special Comm. on Aging, 1971 White House Conference on Aging, S. Doc. 92-53 (1971).


Endnotes:[TOP]
  1. 89th Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 111 (July 9, 1965) at 16145.
  2. 91st Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 115 (July 7, 1969) at 18419.
  3. 92nd Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 117 (July 20, 1971) at 26133.
  4. 90th Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 113 (December 8, 1967) at 35640.
  5. 90th Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 113 (December 14, 1967): at 36813.
  6. 92nd Cong., 2nd sess., Congressional Record 118 (April 19, 1972): at 13381.
  7. 92nd Cong., 2nd sess., Congressional Record 118 (September 19, 1972) at 31139.
  8. 93rd Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 119 (March 1, 1973): at 6088.
  9. 94th Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 121 (October 8, 1975) at 32182.
  10. 89th Cong., 1st sess., Congressional Record 111 (July 9, 1965): at 16146.