With a mission to defend Social Security against all threats, progressives in the U.S. sounded the alarm Thursday in response to reports that President-elect Joe Biden is considering senior campaign advisor and deficit hawk Bruce Reed for a top job in the Democrat's White House.
"Whether or not Bruce Reed gets a White House job will be such a big indicator of whether or not the Biden presidency will break from the deficit hawk wing of the Democratic Party."
—Waleed Shahid, Justice DemocratsAt particular risk should Reed, also a former chief of staff to the former vice president, get the job, said Social Security Works, is the protection of Social Security—a program Biden has pledged to defend, despite his record of proposing cuts to it.
"Joe Biden ran for president on a promise to protect and expand Social Security," Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, said in a statement. "Seniors listened, and delivered his margin of victory in key states like Arizona and Michigan."
"Appointing Bruce Reed to head the Office of Management and Budget would betray that promise," Lawson added.
Bruce Reed, who was a runner-up for Biden's CoS and remains in his inner circle, was a lead architect of the draconian 1996 welfare reform law. In this time of national crisis with millions struggling to get by, we cannot afford to grant positions of power to austerity hawks. https://t.co/k06p4xHrgL
— The Revolving Door Project (@revolvingdoorDC) November 18, 2020
Detailing some of Reed's background giving driving progressives' worry, The Intercept reported in January:
Reed, a longtime Biden aide, played a central role in advocating cuts to the New Deal-era program as a co-founder of the Democratic Leadership Council, as the top staffer for a controversial commission dedicated to slashing the deficit, and then as Biden's chief of staff during the Obama administration. In Washington, D.C., he would be the last high-level staffer a campaign would bring aboard if it was genuinely intent on expanding, not cutting, Social Security.
That commission refers to the Obama-era Bowles-Simpson Commission, which proposed an austerity package including cuts to Social Security.
"As executive director of the Bowles-Simpson Commission," Robert Kuttner wrote at The American Prospect Wednesday, "Reed was not only an austerity advocate himself. He brought on unpaid staffers from leading austerity organizations funded by Pete Peterson," a longtime deficit fearmongerer.
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"If Biden has his head screwed on, he'll keep this guy far away from White House policymaking," wrote Kuttner.
Lawson, in his statement, concurred with that assessment. Reed "has a decades-long obsession with austerity, at a time when we need massive government spending to bring us out of the worst national crisis since the Great Depression."
"Biden must keep his promises to seniors by keeping Reed far away from the White House," he continued.
There's plenty more evidence to back up that demand.
Reed also worked closely with then-Senator Biden on criminal justice policy while in the Clinton administration and helped pass the 1994 Crime Bill. As our @jeffhauser noted, Reed has never apologized for his involvement with it.
— The Revolving Door Project (@revolvingdoorDC) November 12, 2020
In a Wednesday tweet, The Revolving Door Project noted that Reed "was a lead architect of the draconian 1996 welfare reform law. In this time of national crisis with millions struggling to get by, we cannot afford to grant positions of power to austerity hawks."
As Justice Democrats spokesperson Waleed Shahid framed it, Reed's presence or absence in the next administration will be very revealing.
"Whether or not Bruce Reed gets a White House job will be such a big indicator of whether or not the Biden presidency will break from the deficit hawk wing of the Democratic Party," Shahid tweeted.