Biden, Sanders battle over Social Security

The Democratic primary is now gripped by a fight over the future of Social Security, with Joe Biden attacking Bernie Sanders, claiming that Sanders has been unfairly characterizing Biden’s record and statements on it. The problem for Biden, though, is this is extremely unfavorable political terrain for him. Helaine Olen at the Washington Post recently covered it well in a piece headlined: “Sanders is Right: Biden is vulnerable to Trump on Social Security.” 

As recently as 2018, Biden said Social Security “can stay,” but “it needs adjustments.” Adjustments is a euphemism for cuts -- means-testing, reducing the COLA, raising the retirement age, etc. -- but the Biden campaign is now saying that when he meant by “adjustments” is that payments should be increased! That, of course, makes zero sense: What does that have to do with the program being able to stay? (If you want to go down the rabbit hole on this, follow me on Twitter, where I’ve been obsessing over it.)

I took a deep look into Biden’s Social Security history last week, in a piece that is newly relevant today, and found that he has been advocating for cuts to the program more or less continuously for 40 years. Mitch McConnell has said he’s eager to reach a deal with Democrats that would cut Social Security, and McConnell has a history of picking Biden’s pockets in such situations. The sad reality is that if Biden is elected and does work with McConnell to cut Social Security, Republicans will then turn around and attack Biden and Democrats in the next election for…cutting Social Security. 

Hopefully there’ll be a livable planet around long enough to collect that Social Security. Lee Fang has a new and harrowing piece out this weekend that exposes how the pesticide industry is funding research aimed at proving that the mass insect die-off around the globe can be blamed on anything other than insecticides. Worth the read.

And the Warren-Sanders feud feels like old news by now, but I did some new reporting on it that posted over the weekend.