The University of Wisconsin Press

Politics / History


Robert Ball and the Politics of Social Security
Edward D. Berkowitz

Berkowitz considers Robert Ball's Social Security legacy in the face of the recent Bush administration's goal of replacing it with private accounts

In the second half of the twentieth century, no one exerted more influence over Social Security than Robert Ball, who in 1947 wrote the key statement defining why social insurance, not welfare, should be America's primary income maintenance program. This policy-oriented biography surveys the history of Social Security from 1950 to the present through the eyes of the public servant most crucial to its development. Drawing on exclusive access to Robert Ball's papers and Ball's own extensive oral memoir created for this project, Edward D. Berkowitz explains how Social Security came to be America's most important social welfare program. Ball's role in expanding coverage to more workers during the period between 1950 and 1972, as well as in supporting the indexing of benefits to the rate of inflation, directly affected the lives of senior citizens and the overall U. S. economy. Berkowitz demonstrates how Robert Ball used the conservative means of social insurance toward the liberal end of improving the social welfare of Americans.

"Bob Ball is a giant in American socal policy. In a very real sense, he was a founding father of Medicare and a miracle worker on Social Security. Edward Berkowitz's excellent biography is a must-read for all who care about making our country a better and fairer place."—Senator Edward Kennedy

"Edward Berkowitz has performed a real service in writing the book. . . . It sets forth the significant role of Bob Ball and the tremendous influence he had on Social Security and Medicare. For over fifty years Bob has shaped Social Security policy that enriched the lives of countless millions of Americans."—Senator Bob Dole

Edward D. Berkowitz is professor of history and director of the Program in History and Public Policy at George Washington University.

For more information on the debate over Social Security visit : www.

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cover of the book about Robert Ball is illustrated with a blue toned photo of Ball at his desk framed by two pillars and type in the style of currency

August 2005

LC: 2003007779 HD
476 pp.  6 x 9 23 b/w photos

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Paper $26.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-18954-9

ISBN 0-299-18950-3
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