True Security: Rethinking American Social Insurance

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True Security: Rethinking American Social Insurance

Social insurance in the United States including the Social Security Act of 1935 and the Medicare, Medicaid, and disability insurance programs that were added later may be the greatest triumph of American domestic policy. But true security has not been achieved. As Michael J. Graetz and Jerry L. Mashaw show in this pathbreaking book, the nation’s system of social insurance is riddled with gaps, inefficiencies, and inequities. Even the most popular and successful programs, Medicare and Social Security, face serious financial challenges from the coming retirement of the baby boom generation and the aging of the population.

This book challenges the notion that American social insurance must remain inadequate, unaffordable, or both. In sharp contrast to policymakers and analysts who debate only one income security program at a time, Graetz and Mashaw examine social insurance whole to asses its crucial role in providing economic security in a dynamic market economy. They recognize that, notwithstanding a proper emphasis on individual freedom and responsibility, Americans share a common fate that binds them together in a common enterprise. The authors offer us a new vision of the social insurance contract and concrete proposals to make the nation’s families more secure without increasing costs.


"Graetz and Mashaw paint a compelling picture of our social insurance programs and the need for comprehensive reform. A must read for those interested in one of the great domestic policy challenges we face as we enter the twenty-first century."
--Bob Kerrey, U.S. Senator and co-chair, Bipartisan Commission on Entitlements

"This book is an important addition to the very small collection of writings that fundamentally illuminate the status, philosophy, and future path of American social insurance."
--Jacob S. Hacker, The Brookings Institution

"There is concern that we might not be able to afford existing levels of Social Security and Medicare benefits in the future. But if we have the will, Gratez and Mashaw describe the way."
--Daniel Halperin, Harvard Law School

"Graetz and Mashaw...are not only meticulous in explaining their vision but they are mindful of the need to address and persuade a broad public audience...This book ought to be read by policymakers and pundits alike. It's regrettable that the preponderance of aloof the policy book genre discourages readers from seeking out a book as important as True Security."
--Greg Anrig in The American Prospect

"In this wide ranging book, Graetz and Mashaw make an important contribution to the case for preserving social security, medicare and other government social programs that, as they put it, reduce risk and provide true security for all citizens. They reject abolition and privitization as viable options, arguing that social insurance is a necessity in a succesful democratic, market based society. Indeed, they contend that the market can only function effectively if people are adequuately insured against the contigincies which threaten their well-being...This book is comprehensive and thoughtful. Although it deals with complex issues, the authors succeed in presenting the material in a readable in interesting way... The book is essential reading for policy makers, academics, researchers and indeed, anyone concerned about the future of social welfare in the United States today."
--From the Journal of Sociology and Welfare