“Thank you for your letter of April 10, 1993. I appreciate your support for the concept of a health security card. I have passed on your ideas about combining the Social Security and health care cards on to my Task Force on National Health Care Reform. We will continue to talk with you as we progress in our deliberations. I share your concerns about the need to bolster public confidence in the Social Security system. This Administration is fully committed to implementing the legislation requiring mailings of Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statements which you championed so effectively. A planning effort is in place to send citizens statements that include information on their contributions and expected benefits. We will begin to mail these statements to selected populations during F[iscal] Y[ear] 1995 in accordance with the law. I am certain that Secretary Shalala would be pleased to talk with you about her specific plans in this area. The selection of a nominee for Commissioner of Social Security is a high priority, and our search must be thorough and rapid. The Secretary and I agree that the Social Security Commissioner needs to be a person who will provide leadership, vision, and commitment. Social Security is a compact among the generations, and we must see to it that it is honored.… [In holograph:] The annual statement to social security letter [?] is a great idea.”
Clinton, a former Arkansas governor, became the youngest president since Kennedy upon his election in 1993. His re-election made him the first Democrat since FDR to serve a full second term, and he left office with the highest approval rating of any president in the second half of the 20th century. Unfortunately, a series of sex scandals overshadowed his accomplishments. His 1998 impeachment by the House was only the second time in American history that a president had been impeached (the first being Andrew Johnson in 1868). Both presidents were acquitted by the Senate.
“Social Security is a compact among the generations, and we must see to it that it is honored”
Our letter was written in the early days of Clinton’s first term. He had already started work on key campaign promises including health care reform, which fell under Moynihan’s jurisdiction as newly-elected chairman of the Finance Committee. Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act into law with Moynihan’s approval and they also tackled the thorny issue of welfare reform, a matter of special interest to Moynihan, which he felt was more important than health care reform. Despite their differences, Clinton bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom on the senator in 2000. Although Moynihan and the Clinton White House did not always see eye-to-eye, upon leaving his seat in the Senate in 2001, Moynihan endorsed former First Lady Hillary Clinton who was elected to fill it.
Despite his Democratic affiliations, President Nixon selected Moynihan to be his counselor on urban affairs. A former assistant secretary of labor under Kennedy and Johnson and director of the Harvard–MIT Joint Center for Urban Studies, Moynihan was chosen, in part, because of his academic background in social policy. His subsequent diplomatic career included ambassadorships to India and the United Nations. In 1977, he was elected to the Senate, representing New York from 1977to 2001. A hallmark of his long and impressive senatorial career was his ongoing interest in American poverty and the problem of welfare dependency. Moynihan, a trained sociologist, penned several substantial works on the subject including The Negro Family: The Case for National Action (also known as the Moynihan Report),Maximum Feasible Misunderstanding: Community Action in the War on Poverty, The Politics of a Guaranteed Income: The Nixon Administration and the Family Assistance Plan, and Future of the Family.
Donna Shalala (b.1941) served as the secretary of health and human services during all eight years of Clinton’s presidency. A highly respected humanitarian, she currently heads the Clinton Foundation.
Our letter discusses the search for a permanent social security commissioner to replace acting secretary Lawrence H. Thompson. In October 1993, Clinton nominated Shirley Chater, a trained nurse and experienced administrator, but despite holding hearings, the Senate Finance Committee, of which Moynihan was chair, chose not to confirm and she resigned in 1997. Staple holes at top left. Never folded and in mint condition.