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Bernie/Biden Clash On Social Security Masks Real Differences

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by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

In an opinion piece by Paul Krugman, published by the New York Times on January 21, 2020, Krugman writes, "The Sanders campaign has flat-out lied about things Biden said in 2018 about Social Security" The last thing we need is another president who demonizes and lies about anyone who disagrees with him, and can't admit ever being wrong."

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That is pretty damning. What did Sanders or his team actually do?

Krugman writes that the Sanders campaign promoted a doctored video clip that distorted Biden's record on Social Security. He repeated a quote from another N.Y Times article from January 18th (and updated Jan. 21st) by Katie Glueck's that said:

"There is a little doctored video going around," Mr. Biden said, adding that it was "put out by one of Bernie's people."

But Glueck also wrote:

"Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Saturday accused Senator Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign of distorting his record on Social Security, claiming without evidence that Mr. Sanders' team was promoting a "doctored" video [emphasis mine].

In fact, the video clip linked to Krugman's article is an unedited segment of an interview from January 7th between Senator Sanders and Anderson Cooper. While listing differences between Biden and himself, Sanders said:

"You know, Biden has been on the floor of the Senate talking about the need to cut Social Security, or Medicare, or Medicaid."

That's it! Sanders didn't say exactly what Biden said or when he said it. Krugman's comments about a doctored video, therefore, appear to convict him of the same false accusation that he accuses Senator Sanders of committing.

But in fairness to the truth, the released Sanders' campaign materials Krugman refers to did make some misleading claims. As pointed out in the PolitiFact article linked to the Krugman article, item #1 on the Sanders campaign document said:


So, from where did this accusation come? It came from the Congressional Record of the U.S. Senate, as did another article on the subject in the Intercept written by Ryan Grim on January 13, 2020. The lead sentence of Grim's article reads:

"AS EARLY AS 1984 and as recently as 2018, former Vice President Joe Biden called for cuts to Social Security in the name of saving the program and balancing the federal budget."

Grim then cites this excerpt is from the Senate Congressional Record just fifteen-years ago:

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Brian Lynch is a retired social worker who worked in the areas of adult mental health and child protection for many years. His work brought him into direct contact with all the major social issues of the day and many of our basic social (more...)

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