Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib on Tuesday became the first sitting members of Congress to join a new pressure campaign demanding that President-elect Joe Biden keep Bruce Reed—an unapologetic architect of Bill Clinton's disastrous "welfare reform" and notorious austerity proponent—out of the White House.
The "No Deficit Hawks" petition, launched by advocacy group Justice Democrats and backed by other progressive organizations, comes as Reed is reportedly under consideration to lead Biden's Office of Management and Budget (OMB), a key agency that will be tasked with crafting the incoming administration's budgetary agenda amid a devastating economic crisis.
"Bruce Reed helped develop the '94 Crime Bill, pushed broken windows policing and cuts to Social Security and Medicaid. We want an administration that prioritizes programs that protect all of us."
—Rep.-elect Cori Bush
"Putting someone who will prioritize paying down the deficit ahead of all other concerns in charge is a recipe for cutting our earned benefits and turning the Covid recession into a depression," the petition states. "Rejecting Reed will be a major test for the soul of the Biden presidency."
A long-time Democratic operative who has advised and worked for Biden for years, Reed helped craft the 1996 welfare reform law that produced a massive surge in extreme poverty, inflicting severe damage on vulnerable children. Reed, who in 2016 characterized the law as an overall "success," has also been credited with authoring Clinton's infamous vow to "end welfare as we know it."
In the wake of The American Prospect's report last week that Reed is under consideration to head OMB, progressives spotlighted Reed's role as executive director of the Bowles-Simpson Commission, an Obama administration initiative that recommended slashing Social Security benefits.
Social Security Works, one of the backers of the new petition, said it is imperative to "keep Reed and his toxic austerity politics out of the Biden administration."
Omar echoed that message in a tweet on Tuesday, declaring: "If the Biden administration is serious about protecting Medicare and Social Security, they must not appoint one of the biggest champions of cuts to lead their budget agency."
If the Biden administration is serious about protecting Medicare and Social Security, they must not appoint one of the biggest champions of cuts to lead their budget agency.
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 24, 2020
Other signatories of the new petition include the Working Families Party and Data for Progress as well as Reps.-elect Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), incoming progressive members who have also spoken out against the Biden team's reported consideration of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for a White House role.
"Bruce Reed helped develop the '94 Crime Bill, pushed broken windows policing and cuts to Social Security and Medicaid," Bush tweeted Tuesday. "We want an administration that prioritizes programs that protect all of us. Mr. Reed is not someone our communities trust."