Jacobin - November 30, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden will reportedly nominate a White House budget director who has been one of the country’s most prominent critics of US Sen. Bernie Sanders and who has previously backed Social Security cuts.

Biden — who has repeatedly pushed for Social Security cuts throughout his career — announced his selection of Center for American Progress (CAP) president Neera Tanden as his choice to run the powerful White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). A longtime aide to Hillary Clinton, Tanden touted her think tank’s 2010 proposal to reduce Social Security benefits in 2012, as Biden was pushing for such cuts in the Obama administration.

Tanden’s Social Security push followed the 2010 midterms, during the deficit reduction negotiations between the Obama administration and the new GOP Congress. Republicans drew a hard line, but Obama sought a middle ground. Central to the administration’s efforts, which were led by Biden, was a plan called the “chained CPI” that would have slowed the rate at which Social Security benefits increase over time.

Sanders led the fight in the Senate against the chained CPI, while outside groups were divided over whether to line up behind the president. Some, like the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, vocally opposed the cuts.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank, found that the chained CPI “would cut Social Security retirement benefits by about 2 percent, on average.” The organization, nevertheless, said it would support the concept under certain conditions.

Tanden’s CAP, at the time considered to be the largest liberal think tank in Washington, also supported the idea and was a significant voice in favor of the administration’s plan.

Tanden explained her views in a February 2012 C-SPAN interview. Asked by a caller about entitlement reform, she named Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as targets for possible cuts, noting that “the president has $300 million in his budget in cuts in Medicare.” ...
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