Obama Picks Romney Aide Who Knocked His Social Security Plan for Social Security Board

Lanhee Chen called the president's plan on retirement programs 'laughable'

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Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is seen with Policy Director Lanhee Chen on their campaign plane as it flies to Salt Lake City, Utah, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

President Barack Obama announced Monday that he is nominating Lanhee Chen, Mitt Romney’s former top policy adviser, to the Social Security Advisory Board.

The independent and bipartisan board advises the president, Congress and the Commissioner of Social Security on the program, but does not have any decision-making authority. Chen, who served as the Romney campaign’s policy director and is a research fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University, was deeply critical of the president’s management of federal entitlement programs during the campaign.

“On retirement programs, the President’s plan is laughable,” Chen wrote in a memo to reporters two weeks before election day. “With both Social Security and Medicare on the path to insolvency, the President has proposed to do nothing. The Social Security and Medicare Trustees have concluded that doing nothing – the President’s plan – will result in seniors seeing their Social Security benefits cut by 25% in 2033 and that the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will be exhausted in 2024. As President-elect Obama acknowledged in early 2009, we can’t kick the can down the road any further. But rather than offering an honest proposal to protect and strengthen these programs, the President offers just more empty promises.”

Chen’s nomination follows Obama’s decision to appoint former Romney campaign counsel Ben Ginsberg as co-chair of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, which is reviewing ways to make voting easier.