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Remembering Ted Sorensen: A Dedicated Advocate for Social Insurance

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Last Tuesday Ted Sorensen's family held a memorial for him at Lincoln Center. In the wake of his recent death, much of his stirring writing is being recalled. It seems worthwhile to mention one book that is less well known, Why I Am a Democrat (published in 1996). It repeatedly recalls the deprivations that gave rise to Social Security and Medicare; the latter was a key proposal in John Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign.

Ted's book stresses the centrality of social insurance programs to Lincoln's maxim that "it is the proper role of government to do what people cannot do or do so well for themselves."

And he had this advice on "Fiscal Fairness:

A policy of savaging social insurance and education programs and shredding the national safety net (while not cutting "corporate welfare," local pork, redundant military projects, or tax loopholes for the rich) as the primary means of reversing the Reagan-Bush budget deficits is not fair to the young, the poor, the elderly, the unskilled, or the infirm, nor is it necessary.

As so often in the past, Ted's words speak to us today.