mitch-mcconnell

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks to reporters following the weekly Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill on May 25, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

(Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Mitch McConnell’s Plan to Sabotage Social Security From Within

Andrew Biggs, the senator’s pick to serve on the Social Security Advisory Board, is an enemy of the popular program.

Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans have a problem. They hate Social Security, because it is popular, effective, and doesn’t make any money for their billionaire donors. But their voters love Social Security. Ninety-four percent of Republicans oppose benefit cuts.

McConnell understands the political dangers of being openly hostile to Social Security. So instead, he is plotting to sabotage it from within. The latest instrument of that sabotage is Andrew Biggs, a senior fellow at the billionaire-funded American Enterprise Institute. Biggs is McConnell’s pick to serve on the Social Security Advisory Board (SSAB), which “provides advice and recommendations to the President, Congress, and the Commissioner of Social Security on matters related to the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income programs and policies.”

If confirmed to the SSAB, Biggs would have increased influence with policymakers and the media. Biggs has a long history that shows how he would use that influence: To push for Social Security cuts that would devastate working and middle class Americans, while shielding billionaires from paying their fair share into the system.

Biggs seems to think everyone has a cushy, billionaire-funded desk job like his, and would be happy to work until they die.

Biggs served as an associate commissioner of Social Security under former President George W. Bush and was instrumental in Bush’s push to privatize Social Security. His goal was to hand the American people’s earned benefits over to Wall Street. Thankfully, the Bush privatization push failed due to massive grassroots opposition.

Biggs supports raising the retirement age, and has testified before Congress that people should work longer. In his words:

Go back to 1950, when we had a highly industrialized economy. You had coal miners, and farmers, and factory workers. The average age of initial Social Security claiming then was 68. Today, when your biggest on the job risk is, you know, carpal tunnel syndrome from your mouse or something like that, it’s 63... [T]he idea that we can’t have a higher retirement age, I think it just flies in the face of the fact that people did, in fact, retire later in the past, and today’s jobs are less physically demanding than they were in the past.

Nurses, firefighters, auto workers, and so many others would be surprised to hear that their jobs aren’t physically demanding! Biggs seems to think everyone has a cushy, billionaire-funded desk job like his, and would be happy to work until they die.

Biggs also wants to turn Social Security from an earned benefit into a poverty-level flat benefit. That means huge cuts for middle class workers who’ve been paying into the program their entire lives. It would destroy Social Security’s political popularity by turning it into a welfare program—a sitting duck for Republicans to make even larger cuts.

What Biggs doesn’t want is for his billionaire donors to pay their fair share into Social Security. He doesn’t want the American people to know that if billionaires pay into Social Security all year long on all of their income, not only can we protect Social Security—we can expand benefits.

Andrew Biggs is an enemy of Social Security, and we need to keep him off the SSAB. The Senate Finance Committee is holding a hearing on the nomination this week, and the Senate may hold a vote soon. Democrats have a majority in the U.S. Senate, and they must stand united to protect Social Security from Mitch McConnell’s saboteur.

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