Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A new guy gets sworn in as President of the United States and starts firing people who are appointed to supposedly non-political offices for set terms because he doesn’t like the person who appointed them. Well, of course you’ve heard this one before because Joe Biden started doing it before he even attended his own inauguration parties. But now it’s happened again. Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul was appointed by Donald Trump to a term that isn’t supposed to expire until January of 2025. But on Friday, Joe Biden told him that he was fired. Saul’s deputy, David Black, was told to resign on Friday, which he did. But Saul refused, saying he would report to work on Monday remotely, logging in from home. And now the Social Security Administration is pretty much in a state of chaos. (Daily Mail)
However, Saul, 74, told the Washington Post that he would report for work on Monday morning by logging on remotely from his New York home.
‘I consider myself the term-protected commissioner of Social Security,’ he said, added that an email asking for his resignation was the first of the administration’s plans for him.
‘It was a bolt of lightning no one expected,’ he said. ‘And right now it’s left the agency in complete turmoil.’
Kilolo Kijakazi, currently the deputy commissioner for retirement and disability policy at SSA, has been appointed acting commissioner in the meantime.
Chuck Grassley and Midnight Mitch quickly jumped into the dispute making the obvious point.
— Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) July 9, 2021
As I already mentioned, this would be considered an unprecedented action were it not for the fact that it happened once before. And that instance was another case of Joe Biden firing someone from an appointed position that’s designed to be kept on nonpartisan footing. Before Biden finished his first day on the job he fired Peter Robb, the NLRB general counsel, who still had a year left in his term.
These positions are all established with different lengths of service so they don’t coincide with election cycles. That’s done for a reason. They are supposed to be apolitical offices that don’t go through a total housecleaning and revamp every time the White House switches hands. While Biden claims that Saul was politicizing the SSA (without offering any specific charges), he’s doing precisely the same thing.
The “charges” being levied against Saul are claims that he “dragged his feet” on sending out some SSA payments as part of the COVID relief programs. Oddly, I don’t recall seeing that in the news before now. But the real reason for the firing was buried a bit further down in the White House announcement. Saul is accused of having “not repaired S.S.A.’s relationships with relevant federal employee unions.”
There you have it. Under Trump, the unfettered power of the government employee unions was brought into check, including at the SSA. The unions hate Saul and they wanted him gone. And since the unions fund nearly all Democratic campaigns, including Biden’s, Saul apparently had to go. It’s really as simple as that.
As to whether or not it’s even legal for Biden to fire Saul under these conditions, he conveniently enough obtained a ruling from his own Justice Department saying that he could.
I’m not sure how well Saul will do in attempting to “report for work” on Monday by logging in remotely. Those systems go through some fairly hefty security walls and if they cut off his remote access he’ll just be locked out. We’re now left to wonder if Joe Biden fully understands the implications of what he’s doing. These unprecedented firings of apolitical appointees at the Labor Department and SSA will now be used as precedent the next time a Republican wins the White House. And it might wind up being Biden’s appointees who end up getting the boot next time.