Anyone who thinks that Democrats might be prepared to work in a bipartisan manner to reform Social Security should be quickly disabused by their disgraceful treatment of Andrew Biggs, President Bush’s nominee to be the next deputy administrator of the Social Security Administration. Biggs, who once worked for me, is a distinguished economist and expert on Social Security, who has earned the respect of people on all sides of the Social Security debate. During the time we worked together, he proved to be a rigorous analyst, who followed the numbers wherever they led, always choosing facts over ideology. No one ever criticized his character or the quality of his research.
However, Biggs is an advocate of personal accounts. As a result, some Democrats in Congress, the New York Times, and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare have embarked on a campaign to smear him and scuttle his nomination. Democrats appear to be saying that holding any opinion with which they disagree makes one unfit for public office. If that’s the course they plan to pursue in the next Congress, more than just hope for Social Security reform will go down the drain.