Joe Biden’s Long Career as a Deficit Hawk Will Come Back to Bite Him

For the vast majority of his career, Joe Biden was a proud deficit hawk—a man who fretted for decades about federal spending and, on occasion, bragged about his own personal attempts in the 1980s “to freeze all government spending, including Social Security,” in the name of fiscal prudence.

Now, in the midst of a Democratic primary that has seen the party move left on nearly every major policy issue, Biden’s rivals are attacking him for that record, and rightly so: Biden’s past willingness to put popular entitlements on the table could be a serious political liability in a race against Donald Trump, who has repeatedly promised not to cut Social Security benefits for the elderly. Just as importantly, the former vice president’s history on the budget raises serious questions about whether he would cave to sudden demands for austerity if he were ever confronted by a Republican Congress, much as he was seemingly ready to do during the Obama administration.