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Bush tries to pull the wool over Tar Heels' eyes on Social Security

President George W. Bush speaks to the crowd at Meymandi Concert Hall in downtown Raleigh today. Protestors outside the hall. (WRAL)

The bastard graced Raleigh with his presence (and lies) today. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go there for the protest. He had his merry band of supporters there. He can’t sell his plan without organized, often paid, cheerleaders for his plans. (Raleigh N&O;):

President Bush told a Raleigh audience this morning that the fate of Social Security must be secured at once.

A president’s job is to confront problems and not pass them on to future generations,” he said. “We’ve got to anticipate problems, particularly on this issue. The longer we wait, the more difficult the problems become.”

…”For those worried about the politics of Social Security, I ran on it twice,” Bush said. “I believe candidates are rewarded, not punished, for taking on tough issues.” Bush appeared before the audience, which was drawn mainly from Republican Party supporters, along with four panelists from North Carolina. They discussed their personal situations and asked the president questions about his plans.

They included Dawn Baldwin, a teacher at Lenoir Community College; Noel Council, a Raleigh retiree; Cyndi Godfrey, an employee of Godfrey Lumber Company in Statesville; and Matthew “Skip” Long of Raleigh, who is president and chief executive of the National Jobs Partnership. The audience rewarded the president with 38 rounds of applause before he left the room about 12:30 p.m.

Burwell and Brooke Stark attended the event with their 6-year-old daughter, Lindy. The couple said that they were energized by the president’s remarks and confident that he has the right idea for changing Social Security. “We’re more afraid of nothing happening than something happening,” said Burwell Stark, 31. “We know it won’t be the same when we get to that age if nothing is done.”

…Segregated by a metal barricade across the street from BTI Center and accompanied by several police officers, a group of protesters slowly swelled from fewer than a dozen to about 100 people at 10 a.m. Some protesters held neon yellow signs that said “Hands off my Social Security” and began chanting, “Town meeting with no dissent, what a cowardly president.” “That sums up the sentiment on this side of the street,” said Sasha Akhavi, 32, of Raleigh. “We want to look out for our guaranteed benefit of Social Security and not have it replaced by the speculation of the stock market.”

As more protesters arrived, the chants grew louder and benign exchanges with event-goers across the street occurred. At one point, for example, people lined up for the Bush event yelled that the protesters should go home. The protesters responded that they weren’t going anywhere.

To counter the Bush crap and charges that there are no Democratic proposals to address the Social Security “problem”, here are some solutions from

“How do we ‘solve’ the problem?”

1) This is a trick question for three reasons. – It’s not clear if there is a problem – we don’t know what productivity growth will be over the next forty years. In the early 1990s, Social Security looked like it would be insolvent fairly quickly, but because of the rapid productivity growth of the 1990s, the date was moved back to 2042. Analysts have consistently been too pessimistic about our economy (consider what this implies about Bush’s attitude about how fast we can grow). – To the extent that there might be a problem, Bush’s plan makes it worse and only tangentially touches the main issue. It’s like if you say ‘my knee itches’, right-wingers would punch you in the arm. – The real issue is retirement savings, and to the extent that we need to increase income for the elderly, Social Security as it exists is actually part of the solution to this, not a problem.

“How do we solve the retirement problem?”

Let’s imagine what we want for retirement. A safe, secure, guaranteed retirement system for all those who work and play by the rules that we can carry with us from job to job. It should have survivor’s benefits for widows and children as well as safeguards if you become disabled. Let’s implement it and call it… Social Security.

“Come on. There’s clearly a funding issue. How do we ‘solve’ that problem?”

Well, let’s assume you’re right. Which you’re not. But let’s assume that anyway. 68% of Americans think that we should address the problem by limiting benefits for wealthy retirees. 67% of Americans think that we should require higher income workers to pay Social Security taxes on ALL of their wages. Problem solved.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding