2000 Election Watch

Health Care, Social Security, and the Future of American Social Insurance

From the heated health care skirmishes of the Democratic primaries to Bush's recently unveiled Social Security plan, social programs are shaping up to be defining issues in the 2000 elections. And with Bush and Gore each offering prominent plans for personal investment accounts and expanded health coverage respectively, the nation seems once again on the brink of a bitter political fight over the philosophy and future of American social insurance.

Jacob Hacker will evaluate these changing election-year debates in their larger historical and political context. Tracing the roots of America's often misunderstood social insurance system, he will address the pressing questions about its future now emerging: What are the prospects for major health care reform, an issue both politically irresistible and enduringly perilous? How likely is full or partial "privatization" of Social Security, and what might be its social effects? More generally, at a moment when public social commitments face significant challenges and individual self-reliance and wealth appear increasingly prized, how will America's largest programs of social insurance continue to fare?

A Fellow of the New America Foundation and the Harvard Society of Fellows, Jacob Hacker is the author of The Road to Nowhere: The Genesis of President Clinton's Plan for Health Security, which was the co-winner of the 1997 Louis Brownlow Book Award of the National Academy of Public Administration.


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  • Jacob Hacker
    Fellow, New America Foundation, Professor of Political Science, Yale University and Author, The Divided Welfare State: The Political Battle over Public and Private Social Benefits in the United States