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One of the things that is constantly said about this proposal of the American Legion is, that it is an attempt on the part of the World War veterans to secure what is known as a uniform pension law, and I wish to state, here and now, that the Legion has no such idea in mind. The question of pensions for the World War veteransalthough the Legion has a million members today and half a million women in its auxiliary organization, has never come before the American Legion, except once in 1922 in New Orleans, and it was then rejected. In spite of the constant hammering away of the newspaper editorials and magazine editorials beating this idea into their minds, it has not come before the Legion. There is no effort on the part of the Legion to put their nose, as we say, under the tent, so far as pensions are concerned. But, as a matter of fact, at the present time, veterans of the World War do receive what might be considered a pension. Prior to the Economy Act, they received from $8 to $40, known as the "disability allowance” for non-service-connected disabilities.
When the Economy Act came along, and the Economy Act was predicated on the so-called disability allowance act-I mean it was the criticism of the Disability Act which primarily brought about the so-called Economy Act; and then, lady and gentlemen, when the Economy Act was written, that disability allowance was written back into the Economy Act, $20 a month for the permanently and totally non-service-connected veteran.
The CHAIRMAN. $30.
Colonel TAYLOR. No; $20. Now, there was a question about it in everybody's mind as to whether it was the intention of Congress, and the following year, Congress raised it to $30 a month; and today, there, is over $11,000,000 a year being paid out to World War veterans for non-service-connected disabilities. That is a pension and if we were interested in a pension it would be a very simple matter for us to go ahead and suggest to Congress that, instead of being 100 percent, it be reduced to 50 percent or any other disability.
I want to convince this committee that, in our advocacy of financial care for widows and orphans of the World War veterans, there is no intention or idea in anybody's mind connected with the American Legion, relative to what is known as a general pension. It is a question of caring for the widows and orphans of the veterans, a policy going back to 1818, as a matter of fact. In 1838, a law was passed taking care of the widows and orphans of the Revolutionary War. Twenty-five years after the War between the States was over a law was passed taking care of the widows and orphans of the War between the States.
Sixteen years after the Spanish-American War, a law was passed taking care of those widows and orphans; and, today, the widows and orphans of veterans of all wars, with the exception of the World War, are provided for. The widows and orphans and veterans of all wars are taken care of, with the exception of the World War.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, Colonel, do you have any figures on the number this bill would cover?
Colonel Taylor. No; we are very anxious to get that from the Veterans' Administration. The last time the general appeared before this committee, he stated 167,500. I do not know how many there are today. We know that there were 4,760,000 in the war.
One-half a million of those men are dead. Veterans are dying today at the rate of between 85 and 90. Seventy-one percent of them are married and have widows and orphans. And 2,500 to 2,600 veterans are dying every month, and 71 percent are married, with an average of 2y children. We can come pretty near guessing what it is right now. That rate is going to increase. I do not know how many it is, but I will say this, and I have said it repeatedly, that the cost in dollars and cents right now has nothing to do with it. This is a principle which has been established by this Government since 1818, and I repeat that the widows and orphans of veterans of all wars are taken care of, except our own.
Now, you will hear, unquestionably, suggestions to this effect: That these parents will be taken care of by the Social Security Act. Will they? Social Security Act contains provisions for the care of people who become 65 years of age. Let us see how these people will be taken care of.
If a World War widow 65 years of age has worked and 1 percent has been taken out of her wages, and finally 3 percent out of her employer's contribution, when she becomes 65 years of age, she will get back a part of the money she paid in. We are not talking about a widow 65 years of age now. We are talking about the widows of the World War veterans, irrespective of their ages, widows who have to support children right now, and who should be at home supporting them.
Now, you have that many men or women 65 years of age. Now, if they are paupers, if they are indigent, yes, they will be taken care of now, if the State in which they reside has a law to take care of them. And then our Government will contribute to the amount of money which is paid to persons 65 years of age, if that person is a pauper. That does not take care of our widows and orphans. If that is what you call “A. D. C.”, aid to dependent children.
The CHAIRMAN. Before you leave that part, would the Social Security Act take care of widows and orphans on the farm?
Colonel TAYLOR. No; it would not. The Social Security Act takes care of people who are 18 years of age, who have worked and contributed to the fund, or 65 years of age who are absolutely indigent.
The CHAIRMAN. I may be wrong, but I do not understand the Social Security Act applies to agriculture.
Mr. PLUMLEY. The old-age assistance does.
Colonel TAYLOR. That is according to the amount the State gives them.
Mrs. Rogers. Yes; apparently how much they need.
Colonel TAYLOR. That is right; it is according to the amount the State provides.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; and you have this condition in the agricultural States, that the States are not able to put up a very large amount, and as a result, in some of those States, they are only drawing $4 or $5 a month.
Colonel TAYLOR. Yes; $4 or $5 a month.
Colonel Taylor. It is according to the wealth of the States. It is the same way on this aid to dependent children, and if a State has a
law which takes care of the aid to dependent children, whenever the father is dead or has disappeared or what have you, then the first child could get up to $18 a month and the other children $12. That is the maximum, and the Government will contribute one-half of that. But the States are not going to give a child $18 a month, naturally, because they cannot afford it.
What has that got to do with our widows' and orphans' bill? I wanted to bring that out, because I am sure someone will advance the theory that perhaps Social Security will take care of the widows and orphans of the World War veterans, and the answer is that it does not, under any circumstances; and this is not any effort on the part of the Legion to promote a general pension act. However, the widows of all wars are taken care of, except of the World War.
We have been before the Congress since 1931, and once a bill was reported favorably, and once it was passed in the House by a vote of 316 to 16.
These people are getting in worse condition all the time, and the number is increasing; and, certainly, our widows and orphans have just as hard a time getting along as the widows and orphans of the Spanish-American War, or any other war; their children are just as much an expense and trial to bring them up properly, and furnish shoes and food and to take care of those children, if they are to be brought up properly; and it is on that basis, Mr. Chairman, that we appear before you today, pleading with you to now give favorable consideration to this bill, H. R. 1539.
I will present to you Mr. Earl Cliff
Mr. HallECK. Colonel, as I look this bill over, it has no relation at all to need, has it?
Colonel TAYLOR. Oh, yes, Mr. Halleck. It provides
Mr. HalLECK. It providesthat the provisions of this act shall not apply to any person during any year following a year for which such person was not entitled to exemptions from the payment of a Federal income tax.
Colonel Taylor. Yes; that is right. I wish this bill called for an income of $250 a year, and other things. In 1932, the bill had a proviso of $400 a year, but we thought that the more equitable way would be to provide that, if they did not have sufficient income to pay any income tax, they should be entitled to it, and we are just as interested
Mr. HALLECK. A widow without a child, how much?
Mr. HalLECK. Has any exemption under the income tax of $1,000
Colonel TAYLOR. I could not answer that.
Colonel TAYLOR. We are just as interested in that phase of it as anybody. We do not think that people with incomes should be a charge upon the Government.
The CHAIRMAN. Under this bill, when a widow remarries, of course, the compensation stops.
Colonel TAYLOR. By the way, Mr. Chairman, there is one thing I want to call to the attention of this committee, that is, something
that I overlooked, that, even today, a widow of a service-connected veteran must have been married to that veteran prior to July 3, 1931; and that if a veteran married a woman after that time and had children and then died, that widow and children get nothing today. That is something we have attempted to correct in this bill, and by the language that we use as to the marital status, that is something that should be given consideration too.
Mr. PLUMLEY. To what extent have you corrected it?
Colonel TAYLOR. We have said this: the term "widow" shall mean a person who was married to the veteran prior to July 3, 1931, or having married a veteran has lived with him for a period of 3 years next preceding the veteran's death, or having married a veteran has surviving issue of said veteran, and who has not remarried.
Mr. Plumley. In your judgment and opinion, that does correct it?
Colonel TAYLOR. Yes, it does; and so if this bill was passed, this would apply to all of those veterans who have married since July 3, 1931.
Mrs. ROGERS. Colonel Taylor, do you not think it would be a good idea to increase the benefits to those widows?
Colonel TAYLOR. We have a resolution on that subject, Mrs. Rogers. You are talking about the service-connected widows and children?
Mrs. ROGERS. Yes; it does not seem to me it interferes with the other in any way.
Colonel TAYLOR. We have a resolution on that subject. I do not know how the particular sum of $30 or $22 has been arrived at. However, it was started at $8 back in the early part of our history, changed later to $12. Maybe the $30 and $12 and $8 was the pay the veteran received, but he was a soldier and doing service. I have never been able to understand why it was fixed at those rates. I will say this to you, Mrs. Rogers, and I think Mr. Miller will bear me out, that we have had practically no complaints from widows relative to the amounts they have received. Is that correct, Mr. Miller?
Mr. MILLER. Our office does not disclose any complaints. Mrs. ROGERS. They do not complain, anyway, Mr. Chairman,
Colonel Taylor. Mrs. Rogers, I was calling to your attention our resolution asking an increased allowance for widows.
Mr. Miller. I think I would like to amend my statement: There have been constant, though not concerted reflections as to the adequacy of the sum of money granted to the widows who had lost their bread winners, and then shared also in whatever his compensation might have been during his life.
Mrs. ROGERS. Those individual cases come to you also, do they not?
Colonel TAYLOR. You would think they would come into the Legion. Of course, they are receiving $57.50 a month. I will say that Mr. Cliff will devote some time to that. I think I would prefer letting him answer all questions along that line.
Mrs. Rogers. What is that resolution? Will Mr. Cliff give me that?
Colonel TAYLOR. Yes; we have it right here.
The CHAIRMAN. Colonel Taylor, would it disturb you for me to interrupt you at that point?
Colonel TAYLOR. No; go ahead, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. I think every complaint that the veterans can possibly conceive of, comes before the chairman of the committee.
If there has not been a complaint that has not come to the chairman of the committee, it is because it could not be in the English language; and I have had less complaint on the question of increasing these compensations to widows and orphans than almost any other phase of suggested legislations. The complaints that have come to me with reference to widows and orphans' legislation are complaints of the fact that many penniless widows and orphans of the World War veterans are in need of compensation of some kind. Now, lately, there have been a good many of these appeals from Gold Star Mothers coming in.
Colonel Taylor. The resolution, Mrs. Rogers, says:
Be it resolved, that greater monthly benefits be allowed widows and dependents of World War veterans.
Now, Mr. Chairman, may I present to you Mr. Cliff, who is the chairman of the rehabilitation committee, who will go into these matters.
The CHAIRMAN. Let me ask if there is anyone else who wants to ask any questions? If not, we will hear Mr. Cliff.
STATEMENT OF E. V. CLIFF, CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL
REHABILITATION COMMITTEE, AMERICAN LEGION Mr. CliFF. Mr. Chairman, and lady and gentlemen of the committee, with your permission, I am going to read my statement, then I will be glad to answer any questions.
I shall digress, Mr. Chairman, from time to time from this written statement. Mrs. Taylor advised me that you requested that we have something written on the matter
The CHAIRMAN. I said you could if you wanted to, to save time.
Mr. Cliff. We are privileged to come before your committee again. I am reminded that some 13 years have elapsed since the formation of the World War Veterans Committee which was vested with jurisdiction over war-risk insurance of soldiers, sailors, and marines of the World War, compensation allowances to such persons and their beneficiaries, and all legislation affecting them excepting those relating to the civil service, public lands, adjusted compensation, pensions, and private claims. The committee has been diligent, studious, and understanding. It is in my mind that you, Mr. Chairman, and Mr. Connery, of Massachusetts, are the only two who remain of the original membership, though the gentlewoman from Massachusetts, also, Mrs. Rogers, has had long service. This morning's meeting reminds me also of the passing during the two decades since the World War of thousands of our own comrades. We are here gathered to consider the needs of the helpless ones whom these have left with us as they have gone on.
It is good to renew our old friendships and to be able to work in this serious enterprise with both the older and newer members of this important committee. I express the gratitude of the American Legion for these many years of patience and understanding on your part. For ourselves we have diligently sought to project no legislation before the committee which our joint experience did not seem to justify. We have always had the welfare of the whole people in mind as we have advocated laws for the disabled and dependents of the World War, and we have sought also to regard considerately the rights of the American taxpayer. We have tried-as have you-to impose no