Oct 2, 2018

Saul Confirmation Hearing

     The Andrew Saul confirmation hearing has ended. There was no obvious opposition nor even any difficult questions. Saul promised to stay out of issues like privatizing Social Security. He couldn't be confirmed otherwise. Saul tried to downplay his association with the Manhattan Institute that has called for privatizing Social Security.
     One thing that concerns me is that Saul seemed to believe that his management abilities might improve backlogs at Social Security. It's understandable that he might think that. Usually, new Social Security Commissioners think the same thing. However, those backlogs, can't be managed away. They're caused by lack of operating budget. Believing that backlogs can be managed away got previous Commissioners in trouble. They came up with schemes that they thought would work wonders but which only made the problems worse. I may have to dig up some old posts describing what happened before but I think those who have been around a while know implicitly that the backlogs can't be managed away.
     In his opening remarks, the chairman of the Committee, Senator Hatch spoke about why only the nomination for the term ending January 19, 2019 was being considered. He said it was to avoid setting a precedent about confirming someone for a term that only begins in another Congress. The ranking member, Senator Wyden, however, promised that the Saul nomination for a full term would be taken up in the next Congress. I have no idea why he would make such a promise. I hope he got something in return. However, if Wyden is Chairman of the Committee next year, the nomination could still be derailed in other ways. At least I hope it would be. I don't see why Democrats would want Saul in that position until January 2025.


Anonymous said...

The president nominates and he Senate takes up the nomination, unless it is Merick Garland. Wyden would be in a position to lead and effort not to confirm Saul for the second term, but he wouldn't be in a position to dictate who the nominee is. That promise costs him nothing. And who knows, maybe Saul will do a good job in the few week he might be there.

Anonymous said...

1:59 I would recommend you read the new Michael Lewis book. SSA would not exist but for democrats such as FDR and Sam Rayburn who were willing to sometimes fight the interests on behalf of the American people. The demopublicans in congress had better start fighting for the American People and not just sit there. In this 1920's booming republican economy we have four men who are worth more than the lower 50% of the American population while that lower fifty percent cannot even raise $400 in the case of an emergency. Forget about retirement savings when wage income has been stagnant since the 1970's and the banks pay no interest on savings not handed over to Wall Street. I'm sure the privatization drums will be beating and the Wall Street wolf is behind the curtain salivating as the Heritage Foundation/Koch man takes over the candy store. I'm just waiting and watching for the 21st century great depression that lies ahead.

Anonymous said...

8:53 There have been conservative republicans and liberal democrats appointed as commissioner before and since SSA became an independent agency they have had very little to do with policy changes to Social Security let alone lead a charge to privatization. (deputy Commissioners who are basically political officers are a different story). The nominee yesterday even said he opposed privatization. You will actually find few in DC anymore who openly advocate for privatization. Yes they want to shrin Social Security in increase provate retirement vehicles, but they've already died on the privatization hill once, and I haven;t sen much appetite to get crushed again.

The commissioner's job is to get service to the people and if he or she does not then both R's and D's who have dissatisfied constituents will be just as concerned and unhappy.

Grant Smith said...

I don't agree that backlogs are caused solely because of budgetary issues.

There are processes that could be implemented using the current workforce to reduce backlog.

Things like eliminating recon, allowing FF decisions to be just a simple template approval letter with dates, and conditions.

Approve more borderline cases. The money spent defending borderline cases outweighs the benefit to the taxpayer. Someone who litigates a case for several years and eventually gets their backpay costs the system tens of thousands of dollars in administrative costs.

Allowing AA to decide more cases prior to hearings.

None of these things cost extra money or require extra manpower.