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Published On: Thu, Oct 18th, 2012

Biden appears to have exaggerated his role in the 1983 Social Security reform

During the vice presidential debate last week, Vice President Joe Biden seemed to significantly overstate his role in the 1983 negotiations over Social Security.

“Look, I was there when we did that with Social Security in 1983.  I was one of eight people sitting in the room that included Tip O’Neill negotiating with President Reagan.  We all got together and everybody said, as long as everybody’s in the deal, everybody’s in the deal, and everybody is making some sacrifice, we can find a way.”

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This comment would seem to suggest that Biden was one of the few, key players “in the room” working in a bipartisan way to reform Social Security.

On “Meet the Press” on April 29, 2007, then-Sen. Biden made a similar claim, saying he was “one of five people — I was the junior guy — in the meeting with Bob Dole and George Mitchell when we put Social Security on the right path for 60 years.”

But according to the historical record, Biden was not one of the small group of people in “the room,” or in “the meeting” — nor was he even a key player in reforms, reports ABC News.

There were 15 members of the commission, including Dole, Moynihan, and two other senators; Biden was not one of them. Nor was he at the signing ceremony.

The vice president’s office issued a statement suggesting that the vice president at the debate was not saying he was a key player, merely that he played a role and met with O’Neill, and that the bipartisan nature of the negotiations was crucial.

“In 1983, then-Sen. Biden was one of many senators who weighed in on budget-related issues with the party leadership, including on Social Security reform,” the statement from the vice president’s office said. “In particular, he was part of a group of members who met with Tip O’Neill while the Speaker was negotiating with President Reagan on reform specifics.  In those meetings, the Vice President and other members gave their thoughts on the negotiations to the Speaker and Senate Minority Leader Robert Byrd.  The consensus of that group was that as long as everyone is in on the deal, and everyone is making sacrifices, they should be able to find a way.   O’Neill and Reagan worked it out.”

Former Social Security Commissioner Robert Ball, who was on the commission, wrote about the importance of other key players in the reforms who were not on the commission, including Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill., chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Rep. J.J. Pickle, chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security. He did not mention Biden.

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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