News Release

Biden’s Record on Social Security “Cause for Concern”

The Hill reports: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has joined Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in critiquing fellow Democratic presidential primary opponent Joe Biden’s Social Security record.

“’Bernie Sanders and I established the ‘Expand Social Security Caucus” in the Senate,’ Warren told Politico. ‘As a senator, Joe Biden had a very different position on Social Security, and I think everyone’s records on Social Security are important in this election.'”

NANCY ALTMAN, via Linda Benesch, lbenesch at socialsecurityworks.org, @SSWorks
Altman is president of Social Security Works and co-author of Social Security Works! Why Social Security Isn’t Going Broke and How Expanding It Will Help Us All. She was instrumental in fighting back against the Bowles-Simpson Commission and moving the conversation in the Democratic Party from cutting Social Security to expanding it. She is very concerned that if elected President, Biden could pursue a Social Security cutting “grand bargain” similar to Bowles-Simpson.

She released a statement today: “Vice President Joe Biden recently claimed that the Bernie Sanders campaign ‘doctored’ a clip of a 2018 speech, to make it appear that he supports cutting Social Security. The truth is that the clip is in no way doctored. Indeed, the full speech is worse than the clip, because it includes Biden saying that Social Security ‘needs adjustments.’ That’s well known D.C. insider speak for ‘cut benefits.’ Biden’s campaign now claims that the adjustments he had in mind were benefit expansions, but this explanation is not credible. When politicians want to expand Social Security, which is extremely popular, they say so. They don’t use euphemisms like ‘adjustments.’ Additionally, the 2018 speech must be viewed in the context of Biden’s 40-year record of being open to benefit cuts. At various times, he’s expressed openness to raising the retirement age, reducing cost-of-living adjustments, and means testing.

“Now, Biden is running for president on a platform of expanding, not cutting, Social Security. This is both smart politics and wise policy, because the nation is facing a retirement income crisis. But Biden’s past record on Social Security, combined with his frequently expressed desire to work with Congressional Republicans, is still cause for concern. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he wants to work with the next Democratic President — on cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. That begs the question: Is Biden’s newfound commitment to Social Security stronger than his desire for bipartisan dealmaking?”

See from Ryan Grim from The Intercept: “Fact Check: Joe Biden has Advocated Cutting Social Security for 40 Years.” He quotes extensively from Biden’s record: “After a Republican wave swept Congress in 1994, Biden’s support for cutting Social Security, and his general advocacy for budget austerity, made him a leading combatant in the centrist-wing battle against the party’s retreating liberals in the 1980s and ’90s. 

“’When I argued that we should freeze federal spending, I meant Social Security as well,’ he told the Senate in 1995. ‘I meant Medicare and Medicaid. I meant veterans’ benefits. I meant every single solitary thing in the government. And I not only tried it once, I tried it twice, I tried it a third time, and I tried it a fourth time.’ (A freeze would have reduced the amount that would be paid out, cutting the program’s benefit.)”