Analysis by WorldTribune Staff, October 21, 2020
Joe Biden has a history of wanting to cut Social Security.
And there is no guarantee that he will keep his hands off seniors’ Social Security if he becomes president. In fact, some analysts say he will eventually have to cut Social Security to raise the many trillions of dollars he will need to pay for the progressive policies, i.e. the Green New Deal, he has promised leftists.
And, since many on the Left have boasted that Biden will be easily pliable to their demands, cuts to Social Security will never be taken off the table.
During his tenure as vice president during the Obama years, as part of his effort to reduce the deficit Biden openly advocated for putting entitlement programs, including Social Security, on the negotiating table.
“Shortly after taking office in 2009, President Barack Obama and his administration were struck with a complex problem. The economy, which was still in the midst of the Great Recession, was struggling to rebound, with job losses, bankruptcies, and home foreclosures running rampant. At the same, the deficit was at an all-time, hitting 8.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product, because of the Bush-era tax cuts and recession required stimulus spending,” Breitbart’s Haris Alic noted in an Oct. 20 analysis.
In February 2010, Obama issued an executive order which created a National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. The commission’s goal would be a long-term proposal for lowering the deficit and achieving a balanced budget by at least 2015.
“Even though Biden was not a member of the commission, the vice president took an interest in its work because it overlapped with his official role in helping run the administration’s economic recovery efforts,” Alic wrote.
Biden had long favored freezing all federal spending, including Social Security, to rein in the deficit.
The commission’s plan, which Biden advocated for, proposed to cut Social Security benefits for those in the top half of the income tax bracket, while raising the retirement age to 69. The plan also would have reduced the cost of living adjustments that are made to benefits as inflation rises.
The commission’s proposal was never introduced in Congress, but “its ideas for reducing the deficit quickly took hold among Obama administration officials, specifically Biden,” Alic noted.
Biden in early 2011 held talks with top congressional leaders, including then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, on how to how to achieve a “grand bargain” on the deficit. The talks were detailed in Bob Woodward’s book “The Price of Politics” and indicated that Biden was intent on a deal, even if it meant putting Social Security and Medicare on the table.
By the summer of 2011, Biden had roped more members of Congress into the talks, with the group now expanded to six Democrats and six Republicans. As Woodward noted, Biden was close to hammering out a deal that would have cut federal spending by $2 trillion, including programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Food Stamps. When Republicans fretted over proposed tax increases, especially allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire, Biden suggested a compromise by raising the retirement age for Social Security and also creating a mechanism to means-test the program.
As part of the compromise, Biden also pitched Republicans on a relatively obscure change to the cost of living formula in hopes of sealing a deal. Biden, in particular, sought to amend the formula that determined the cost of living adjustments for programs like Social Security.
Biden suggested that such programs in the future be tied to the United States Chained Consumer Price Index (Chained CPI) rather than the current United States Consumer Price Index.
Chained CPI is predicated on the notion that when the cost of living increases due to changes in the prices of goods, consumers will adjust their purchasing patterns to make up for the rise. The theory suggests that even though cost of living might increase on paper, the impact is negligible on consumers.
Alic wrote: “Had Biden succeeded in tying Social Security and other entitlements to Chained CPI, it would have cut the expected growth in program benefits that recipients had become accustomed to over time. Attaching Social Security to Chained CPI has long been opposed by progressives and advocacy groups like the AARP on the grounds that seniors are more impacted by inflation since a significant portion of their incomes go to medical costs, which are always rising at rates higher than the rest of the economy.”
Even though Biden attempted to make Chained CPI central to the deficit negotiations, the talks ultimately fell apart when congressional Republicans were unable to sell any proposed revenue increases to their members.