For the past five years, the Social Security Administration has not had an official head, but that could soon change as the Senate Finance Committee begins hearings for President Donald Trump’s nominee, Andrew Saul.
According to The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, Saul is “a New York businessman, Republican donor, and former chairman of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which administers the retirement plan for U.S. government employees.”
He also served on the board of a right-wing think tank, The Manhattan Institute, which advocates privatizing Social Security.
> The Social Security Administration has run without a confirmed, full-fledged director for the past five years. The Republican-led Senate refused to confirm President Obama’s nominee, who departed as acting commissioner after the Trump administration took office. President Trump dragged his feet making a nomination, leaving acting chief Nancy Berryhill to lead an agency struggling to provide customer service in the wake of draconian budget cuts.
> Appearing before the House Social Security subcommittee in March, National Committee president Max Richtman said that SSA needed “strong leadership” to achieve its mission, and that a new commissioner should be nominated and confirmed. Now that President Trump has finally selected someone, what do we really know about him?
For starters, Saul is well-aligned with Republican politics, having been a top fundraiser for President George W. Bush — who attempted to privatize Social Security — and worked for several years with The Manhattan Institute.
What is its position on Social Security?
> We need look no further than the Manhattan Institute’s website to glean the organization’s position on Social Security. In an article entitled, The Social Security Façade, the Institute propagates rightist myths that the program is going bankrupt and will no longer be able to pay benefits when today’s young people retire. In other words, it employs the time-worn tactic of dividing the generations to undermine Social Security:
> “Young Americans are stuck paying into programs that, absent reform, will only partially be there for their retirements – if they’re around at all.” – Manhattan Institute website
> The Institute believes that current Social Security benefits “are simply too generous,” and goes on to spread another falsehood:
> “These entitlement programs function not only as wealth transfers from the young to the old, but from the poor to the wealthy… today’s seniors have an average of 47 times the wealth of households headed by adults under the age of 35.” – Manhattan Institute website