Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley is on deck to become the next head of the Social Security Administration at a time when the agency is confronting an array of financial and demographic challenges. Social insurance programs around the world are facing unprecedented stress as the global population ages.

President Joe Biden announced O’Malley’s appointment as commissioner of the agency yesterday. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Senate.

“As governor, O’Malley made government work more effectively across his administration and enhanced the way millions of people accessed critical services,” Biden said in a statement.

“As mayor of Baltimore and governor, he adopted data and performance-driven technologies to tackle complex challenges facing the communities he served—and I saw the results firsthand when we worked together during my time as vice president,” he added.

The appointment of O’Malley to run Social Security met with mixed reactions that ran largely along partisan lines.

“Martin O’Malley never backs down from a challenge,” Democrat Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin tweeted. “POTUS has nominated my friend, and one of Maryland’s most successful governors, to be the next Commission of the Social Security Administration.”

Sen. Ron Wyden, who sits on the committee which will consider O’Malley’s confirmation, called the former governor “a proven leader” in a statement yesterday.

If confirmed, O’Malley would run one of the biggest social programs in the country, serving roughly 70 million people who receive Social Security benefits and also be responsible for overseeing any financial fixes Congress orders for the financially embattled agency.

The Social Security Administration admittedly faces “significant financing issues,” the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees said in their March report.

Without new taxes, benefit reforms or both, the current system only has enough money to pay 100% benefits through 2033. Beginning in 2034, recipients would receive 77% of scheduled benefits, the trustees reported.

If confirmed, O’Malley would succeed acting-Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi, who was appointed by Biden in July 2021. O'Malley would be the agency’s first permanent head since Biden fired the commissioner and deputy commissioner—both Trump appointees—when he took office, AP reported.

O’Malley served as the 61st governor of Maryland for two terms, from 2007 to 2015. Before that, he was elected twice as Baltimore mayor.

He also championed a much maligned so-called “rain tax” on 10 of the state’s largest, most urban counties for rainwater runoff based on an EPA standard. Maryland was the only state in the nation to enact the tax at the time.

The Washington Examiner, a conservative newspaper, said it was one of 40 new taxes or tax increases O’Malley signed into law during his eight years in office when he was forced to reckon with severe budget shortfalls in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Some pundits believe that Marylanders elected Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in the blue state as pushback on the $9.5 billion in new taxes O’Malley enacted, handing O’Malley’s own lieutenant governor Anthony Brown a resounding loss in 2014.

“What federal Democrats fail to remember is that O’Malley left Maryland in a fiscal hole so deep it sunk his predecessor from ascending to the governorship,” Brian Griffiths, political commentator and publisher of The Duckpin, wrote in his column.

It took O’Malley’s successor to “pull the nose up and eliminate the structural deficit. O’Malley’s appointment endangers Social Security,” Griffiths, an independent, claimed.

O’Malley also mounted an unsuccessful presidential bid in 2016, but has told reporters that he has no plans to run for office again.