Jan 14, 2013

Astrue Timeline

     Below is a timeline I have compiled on Michael Astrue's term as Commissioner of Social Security. Perhaps more important than any of the items on the timeline is Social Security's budget situation but that does not lend itself to a timeline. The budget situation during Astrue's term can be broken down into three two-year time periods:
  • 2007-2008 -- George W. Bush is President and resurgent Democrats control Congress. Despite serious funding needs and despite the fact that his agency has officially asked for more money than the amount the White House is asking for, Astrue tells a somewhat skeptical Congress that he only wants for his agency what the White House is asking for. This is still far better than what Social Security had been receiving before the 2006 Congressional elections when Republicans controlled both the White House and Congress and were unwilling to give the agency what President Bush had asked for.
  • 2009-2010 -- Barack Obama is President and Democrats control Congress. Social Security receives far better appropriations than it has received in many, many years. Social Security hires some employees but relies heavily upon overtime to dramatically work down backlogs. Astrue makes spending on information technology an extremely high priority. This includes construction of a new National Computing Center, which seems to be Astrue's highest priority.
  • 2011-2012 -- Barack Obama is President. Democrats have a majority in the Senate. Highly confrontational tea party Republicans control the House of Representatives. Appropriations become the primary focus of a running battle between the President and House Republicans. Social Security's appropriations suffer badly. How hard Astrue fights for appropriations is hard to gauge. Certainly, he could have been more public about the fight. The agency's workforce, which had never increased that much even between 2009 and 2010, begins to dwindle. Overtime becomes scarce. Backlogs begin to creep up. As Astrue prepares to leave office, overtime has almost disappeared and backlogs are worsening dramatically.
     And here's the more traditional sort of timeline for Astrue's term as Commissioner:


Anonymous said...

You have too much time on your hands.

Unknown said...
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