I’ve made no secret that I’m in the anyone but Biden camp in the primary (well, Buttigieg isn’t good either), in no small part because of his history of wanting to cut the safety net, including Social Security. That’s bad policy and bad politics. On top of that, we had to spend so much time just preventing things from getting worse, and we can’t afford to waste time like that again.
For various reasons, this part of Biden’s history appears to have disappeared down the memory hole for most people, though if you want to understand why those who, back in the day called themselves liberal Democrats (apparently, we’re now socialists or something), really don’t like him or the other New/moderate Democrats, this is a big reason why. We spent a lot of time fighting our own party to prevent cuts to Social Security.
For perspective, Biden obviously wasn’t a liberal Democrat in the 1980s and 1990s, but, importantly, he wasn’t a conservative either. One example of this is a Senate speech he gave when he opposed the balanced budget amendment–which was a good policy. But consider this (p. 15; pdf; boldface mine):
It seems to me that we should tell the American people. I look at the polls out there. For example, I want to go on record, and I am up for reelection this year, and I will remind everybody what I did at home, which will cost me politically. When I argued that we should freeze Federal spending, I meant Social Security as well. 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.
Somebody has to tell me in here how we are going to do this hard work without dealing with any of those sacred cows, some deserving more protection than others. I am not quite sure how you get from here to there. I am sure that we should tell the American people straight up that such an amendment is going to require some big changes.
Again, he was better than the Republicans at the time (as well as too many Democrats), in that he also argued that ‘capital investments’ should not be counted towards deficit spending because states with balanced budget amendments used the same dodge to deficit spend without calling it deficit spending. So, for his era, he wasn’t a conservative at all.
But as the sages noted when asked why Noah–who was called a ‘righteous man in his generation’–wasn’t lauded, his generation wasn’t very righteous. It’s not 1995 anymore, but it’s not clear at all that Biden has changed–and saying you’ll ‘protect’ Social Security, when spoken by New Democrats has meant that they will cut it to ‘save it.’
He really needs to confront this because I guarantee Trump will pound this shit out of him on this–and he won’t have to go back to 1995 either, he can just bring up all of the Grand Bargain bullshit from the Obama era.