welfare is social security (not the other way around)

The Republican nominee for Senate in Nevada, Sharron Angle, is being attacked today for calling social security “welfare.” But what’s really interesting is how welfare and Social Security are historically quite closely intertwined. In fact, it’s more factually accurate to say welfare is a form of social security rather than the other way around. As political scientist Robert Lieberman details in his book Shifting the Color Line: Race and the American Welfare State, the Social Security Act of 1935 created a number of important social policies, including Old Age Insurance and Aid to Dependent Children. But while Old Age Insurance came to be simply referred to as “Social Security” (a term that carries a positive connotation in public discourse),  Aid to Dependent Children came to be known as “welfare” (a term that, by contrast, carries negative and racially-charged connotations).


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