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The Sympathetic StateDisaster Relief and the Origins of the American Welfare State$
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Michele Landis Dauber

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780226923482

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226923505.001.0001

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The Bomb-Proof Power

The Bomb-Proof Power

(p.127) Five The Bomb-Proof Power
The Sympathetic State

Michele Landis Dauber

University of Chicago Press

This chapter presents a close examination of the drafting of the Social Security Act which corrects some key misperceptions of this history. Today, it is generally understood that the Constitution was an impediment to the adoption of a national scheme for unemployment and other forms of social provision during the New Deal. But this view was absent at the time. Instead, all of the lawyers involved in producing the Social Security Act believed that the spending power, based on the precedent of disaster relief, was broad enough in 1934 to permit the government to operate a national system of unemployment insurance. Indeed, legal experts at the time viewed the mixed federal-state programs that were pursued for political reasons as far more constitutionally vulnerable.

Keywords:   Social Security Act, Constitution, social welfare, New Deal, spending power, disaster relief, unemployment insurance

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