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June 02, 2005

A Guy with a Truly Thankless Job...

White House Social Security substance person Andrew Biggs gets whomped by Democrats:

Wonkette - Strunk & White House: SSA Official Proofs Independent Lobbyist Report: The Pentagon? Not so responsive on the fact-checking, according to Michael Isikoff. The Social Security Administration? Maybe a little too responsive:

From Congress Daily: 'Senate Democrats are investigating whether Social Security Administration Assistant Commissioner Andrew Biggs violated a federal ban on congressional lobbying by federal employees when he edited the prepared testimony for a lobbyist [named Derrick Max] appearing before a recent Democratic Policy Committee Social Security hearing, Senate aides said Wednesday.'

Max and Biggs believe that what they did was okay, because they're personal friends, and because the edits Biggs made were minor, and mostly grammatical. Here, for example, is what appears to be Biggs' advice on how to deal with split infinitives: 'Include some info from the doc we put out yesterday; it shows that widows and divorced women do better than scheduled and the plan pulls a lot of them out of poverty.' -- GREG BEATO

And he gets whomped by Republicans:

President Discusses Strengthening Social Security in North Carolina:

THE PRESIDENT: Andrew Biggs. We are here with one Andrew Biggs, a fine lad, as you can see. (Laughter.) What do you do? Work for me, of course. (Laughter.) Tell them what you do, Andrew, please -- Andrew and I have done this before, see, so I'm used to needling him. (Laughter.)

DR. BIGGS: My name is Andrew Biggs, and I'm Associate Commissioner for Retirement Policy at the Social Security Administration, which in short language means I think about Social Security reform quite a bit. The good news on Social Security, even it seems very complex --

THE PRESIDENT: Andrew has a PhD, by the way. (Laughter.) Which -- it's an interesting lesson for those of you who are worried about your college career. Andrew has a PhD, and I got a C. (Laughter and applause.) And look who's working for who. Anyway -- (laughter.)

DR. BIGGS: All those years of effort gone to waste, I guess.

THE PRESIDENT: It's a cheap shot, Andrew, I know. Do we have a problem with Social Security? You look at it, you analyze it.

DR. BIGGS: Sure, we do. The good news is you don't need a PhD to understand how this works. (Laughter and applause.) The biggest misunderstanding people have --

THE PRESIDENT: I'll let it pass, Andrew. (Laughter.)

74 words during which you can say nothing of substance, and then from the transcript it looks like you get cut off for good.

I can't figure out why any substance people at all still work for this White House. Surely you'd have more influence--and better working conditions--on Thomas's or Grassley's staff, or back at Cato?

Posted by DeLong at June 2, 2005 12:14 PM