Thursday, July 12, 2012

Social Security Stories: Senator Al Franken


As a freshman in college, Senator Al Franken met his future wife Franni Bryson at a mixer. They hit it off immediately and talked for hours. Not long after, she told him the story of her upbringing. At just 17-months-old, Franni lost her father – a decorated veteran of WWII – in a car accident that left her mother widowed with five kids.

“Sometimes they didn’t have enough food on the table; sometimes they’d turn off the heat,” Franken says. “They made it because of Pell grants and Social Security survivor benefits. And my mother-in-law and every one of those five kids became a productive member of society.”[1]

Franni’s story left an indelible mark on her husband and confirmed his belief in Social Security. In his book The Truth (with Jokes), Franken wrote about how Franni’s mom used Social Security to keep her family together.


“As soon as Bootsie (the youngest) started school, Franni’s mom got a job working odd hours in the produce department at a nearby supermarket. Her paycheck, a very small veterans’ widows’ benefit, and survivors benefits from Social Security weren’t always enough to keep the heat on during the Maine winters, or the telephone or the lights for that matter, but they did put food on the table. (Though a terrific cook, my mother-in-law sometimes had to serve fried dough to feed her family). Neil went into the Coast Guard, and all the girls went to college. If it hadn’t been for Social Security, I never would have met Franni in Boston my freshman year…”[2]

Franken strongly believes that the government has a duty to provide for those in need through Social Security.

“Social Security provides a safety net for families torn apart by unspeakable tragedy and for those unable to earn a regular paycheck,” says Franken. “It is vitally important that we preserve Social Security and give our children and grandchildren the same fighting chance we all had growing up.”

[1] Levy, Ariel. “Don’t Laugh; During the Bush years, satire was one of the Democrats’ most potent weapons. But Al Franken’s earnest – sometimes tearful – campaign for senator raises the question: Can politics and comedy co-exist?” New York Magazine (November 12, 2007)

[2] Franken, Al “The Truth (with Jokes)” Penguin Books (October, 2005)

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