Andrew Biggs

American Enterprise Institute senior fellow Andrew Biggs appears at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on January 31, 2024.

(Photo: Senate Finance Committee/Screengrab)

Andrew Biggs Is An Expert—On Destroying Social Security

Biggs has spent decades trying to take away retirement benefits from Americans, by any means necessary.

For decades, Andrew Biggs has paid special attention to what he says are “retirement security issues,” but in reality his racket is billionaires’ security issues.

Biggs has a certain reputation. You may not be where Andrew Biggs is politically, but you can respect his consistency: He interprets anything that happens as an excuse to cut Social Security.

In a recent op-ed for The Hill, Andrew Biggs had the gall to attack the credibility of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on retirement issues. That’s rich coming from someone who has made a career of asking ordinary Americans to make do with less in retirement so that billionaires can continue paying almost nothing in taxes.

Andrew Biggs attacking Bernie Sanders on retirement issues is like a fox attacking a farmer on the subject of henhouse management.

It’s accurate to say that Andrew Biggs is an expert in one area of retirement security: destroying it. Biggs has spent decades trying to take away retirement benefits from Americans, by any means necessary. Where to begin?

Biggs played a leading role in former President George W. Bush’s ill-conceived, extremely unpopular attempt to privatize Social Security in 2005.

Biggs has frequently supported means-testing Social Security, advocated for raising the retirement age while casually suggesting (with cruel dismissiveness) that the biggest on-the-job threat for modern workers is “carpal tunnel.” He has testified in front of Congress that Social Security’s earned benefits are too high.

In 2019, Biggs said raising the retirement age would be a good way to give people “a psychic nudge to work longer.” Biggs could not be more out of touch with working people and what they need in retirement.

Andrew Biggs attacking Bernie Sanders on retirement issues is like a fox attacking a farmer on the subject of henhouse management. Spending your life trying to steal something is certainly one way to become an expert on it!

Crucially, Biggs fails to understand Social Security and what makes it such an effective program.

Andrew Biggs desperately wants to turn Social Security into a flat, poverty-level benefit. Biggs sees the popularity and durability of social insurance, and it infuriates him. Why not welfare instead? Why not transform Social Security into something easier for Biggs and his ideological allies to dismantle and drown in the bathtub?

There’s a reason former President Franklin D. Roosevelt said “no damn politician can ever scrap my Social Security program.”

Andrew Biggs embodies FDR’s pithy and timeless remarks on the false promises of his Republican opponents when it comes to retirement security:

Let me warn you and let me warn the Nation against the smooth evasion which says,

“Of course we believe all these things; we believe in social security; we believe in work for the unemployed; we believe in saving homes. Cross our hearts and hope to die, we believe in all these things; but we do not like the way the present administration is doing them. Just turn them over to us. We will do all of them—we will do more of them, we will do them better; and, most important of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything.”

But, my friends, these evaders are banking too heavily on the shortness of our memories.

Indeed, Andrew Biggs is banking on the shortness of our collective memories when it comes to Social Security.

Biggs is obsessed with this idea that in Australia and other Anglophone countries, public retirement programs are closer to welfare instead of social insurance. But, Biggs conveniently ignores the history of American politics, where his billionaire friends and their lackeys target and destroy the programs that Biggs wants to turn Social Security into.

That’s baloney. It’s an extremely naive misrepresentation of American politics and how conservatives like Biggs have demonized and attacked welfare.

The most effective, fairest, and politically strongest way to protect and strengthen retirement benefits for everyone is by expanding Social Security and asking billionaires to pay the same rate as the rest of us into the system.

When it comes down to it, Biggs is paid by billionaires to tell lies and try to prevent billionaires from paying more in taxes. No matter the moment, he has only one idea: Working people must make do with less—and like it!

Luckily, even with Washington, D.C.’s, goldfish-length memory, Biggs’s schtick is wearing thin. When he is in a venue where he cannot lie, like a Senate hearing, he is exposed, challenged, and rejected quite quickly and even bipartisanly.

When it comes to Social Security, it is important to remember Andrew Biggs is only an expert in one way, attempting to make the weaker argument the stronger through sophistry and sheer shamelessness. Ignore this man, and everything he says.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.