Wilbur J. Cohen
Wilbur Joseph Cohen (June 10, 1913, Milwaukee, Wisconsin – May 17, 1987, Seoul, South Korea) was an American social scientist and federal civil servant. He was one of the key architects in the creation and expansion of the American welfare state and was involved in the creation of both the New Deal and Great Society programs.
Wilbur Cohen was known by several nicknames. He was once dubbed "The Man Who Built Medicare" and John F. Kennedy tagged him "Mr. Social Security," although, it was Frances Perkins, the first woman Secretary of Labor (under FDR) who was the architect of social security. With The Social Security Act Perkins established unemployment benefits, pensions for the many uncovered elderly Americans, and welfare for the poorest Americans. The New York Times called him "one of the country's foremost technicians in public welfare." Time portrayed him as a man of "boundless energy, infectious enthusiasm, and a drive for action." He was a leading expert on Social Security and a member of Americans for Democratic Action.
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1934, Cohen moved to Washington, D.C. where he was a research assistant for the committee which drafted the Social Security Act. Later, he was Director of the Bureau of Research and Statistics in charge of program development and legislative coordination with Congress for the Social Security Board (SSB), which was renamed the Social Security Administration in 1946.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Cohen Assistant Secretary for Legislation of Health, Education, and Welfare. President Lyndon B. Johnson elevated him to Under Secretary in 1965 and to U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1968. Also, in 1968 Florance Flast joined several others in filing suit against Wilbur Cohen, the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, contending that spending funds on religious schools violated the First Amendment's ban on the establishment of religion. The district court denied standing, and the Supreme Court heard the appeal.
In the 1970s Cohen served as president of the American Public Welfare Association (in 1997 it was renamed the American Public Human Services Association). In 1980 Cohen became a Professor of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.
The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where Cohen was a professor of Public Welfare Administration and lived for many years with his wife Eloise and their sons Christopher, Bruce and Stuart, established the Wilbur J. Cohen Collegiate Professor of Social Work professorship in his honour. Wilbur Cohen died while attending a gerontology conference in Seoul, South Korea in 1987.
- The Elimination of Poverty in the United States. Wilbur J. Cohen, 1963.
- The Roosevelt New Deal: A Program Assessment Fifty Years After. Wilbur J. Cohen. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press. 1986 paperback edition: ISBN 0-89940-416-2, ISBN 978-0-89940-416-5.
- Social Security: Universal or Selective? Wilbur J. Cohen and Milton Friedman, co-authors. Washington: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. 1972. 
- Unemployment Insurance in the United States: The First Half Century. Saul J. Blaustein, Wilbur J. Cohen, William Haber, co-authors. Kalamazoo, Michigan: W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. 1993 hardcover edition: ISBN 0-88099-136-4, ISBN 978-0-88099-136-0.
- Mr. Social Security: The Life of Wilbur J. Cohen. Edward D. Berkowitz. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas. 1995 hardcover edition: ISBN 0-7006-0707-2, ISBN 978-0-7006-0707-5.
- Fitzhugh Mullan (5 October 1988). "Interview with Dr. Philip Randolph Lee". History of Health Services Research Project, National Institutes of Health.
- Saxon, W. (1987, May 19). Obituary at Wilbur Cohen, Leading Architect Of Social Legislation, Dies at 73. New York Times p. D30.
- Edward D. Berkowitz. Foreword by Joseph A. Califano (1995). "Mr. Social Security: The Life of Wilbur J. Cohen". University Press of Kansas.
- Social Security Administration profile
- Guide To Social Security Archives, Papers of Wilbur Cohen
- Kansas Press book on him
- Site on LBJ's cabinet
- Literacy Connections list of publications by Wilbur J. Cohen
John W. Gardner
|United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare
May 16, 1968 - January 20, 1969
Robert H. Finch