Presidential Statements

President Clinton's statement at the White House bill-signing ceremony for the Independent Agency:

. . . When Franklin Roosevelt made a speech to the New York legislature in 1931, he said this: "The success or failure of any government must be measured by the well-being of its citizens." That was the goal that moved him 59 years ago yesterday. On that day, in a ceremony in the Cabinet Room, just behind us, he signed the Social Security Act into law. And that is what guides us today.

With an independent Social Security Administration, we are reinventing our government to streamline our operations so that we can serve the American people better. We are strengthening those things which Social Security ought to do, and taking precautions to make sure it does not do things which it ought not to do. It is proving that government can still work to improve people's lives. And now Social Security, we know, will work even better.

For millions of Americans, that signature 59 years ago transformed old age from a time of fear and want to a period of rest and reward. It empowered many American families as well, freeing them to put their children through college to enrich their own lives, knowing that their parents would not grow old in poverty. . . President Roosevelt said then that that session of Congress would be regarded as historic for all time. . .

What we do here today maintains that historic commitment. If we keep focus on the work we are sent here to do, what we do here today can be but the precursor of things that we also can do to benefit the American people that will be historic for all time.

William J. Clinton