By a vote of 118 to 100, the House substituted for an adverse committee report a bill to reduce from 70 to 65 the age of male beneficiaries under the old-age pension fund, the Springfield Republican reported (March 5, 1931, p. 1, 12).
Rep. Birmingham led the fight for passage of the bill, which was based on a recommendation made by Gov. Joseph B. Ely in his inaugural address. Birmingham argued that it would wipe out the poorhouse in the state and reduce the cost of old-age assistance.
Birmingham said that when a man loses job at the age of 65, he can’t get another job.
“I do not want it said that this prosperous state refused to listen to the appeal of these workers who have given their lives to building up prosperity and have passed the age of working,” Birmingham said.
Rep. Cahill of Braintree led the opposition to the bill. He argued that lowering the age would have an uncertain cost impact, particularly when the legislature was still trying to figure out how to raise the revenue for old-age pension with the age set at 70.
Rep. Daniel J. Coakley of Chicopee urged the House not to amend the bill but to give the law a year’s trial at 70 years. If it was successful, he pledged to vote to lower the age to 65.
The previous year, Birmingham had offered an amendment to an old-age pension bill that lowered the age to 65 years for men and 60 years for women. The House approved Birmingham’s amendment and passed the amended old-age pension bill by a vote of 202 to 27. Apparently, that bill failed in the Senate.