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President Bush's Social Security Privatization Proposal

Location: Washington, DC


The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Pallone) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, this Friday, President Bush plans to take his traveling White House to New Jersey in the hope of convincing New Jersey workers to support his Social Security privatization proposal. For 6 weeks, the President has been working to build support for his plan, but it has fallen flat with the American people and it will fall flat also in New Jersey.

Mr. Speaker, the American people simply do not believe the President wants to strengthen Social Security. President Bush keeps on talking about a crisis, but even he has admitted his own privatization plan does nothing to fix the problem Social Security faces 40 years from now.

The problem is that private accounts eliminate the guaranteed benefits of Social Security and leave benefits to the vagaries of the stock market. Since the money is taken out of the Social Security trust fund to pay for private accounts, the shortfall results in benefit cuts to Social Security recipients, and the Federal Government has to borrow more money and go further in debt to try to make up for the shortfall.

Last week, I held two Social Security town hall forums in different parts of the State. First, I talked with senior citizens in Smithville, just outside of Atlantic City, and next I visited with more than 70 college students in Brookdale, at Brookdale Community College in Monmouth County. Here too the forum was open to all members of the college's political science and history club. I would assume some of the participants were Republicans, but that does not really matter.

The bottom line is that as Members of Congress, Senators, and senior organizations hold forums around the country and explain the President's privatization plan, there is more and more opposition to it. While the President still seems to think his privatization plan is catching on, Congressional Republicans brave enough to have town hall forums heard an earful from supporters of the current Social Security System.

Mr. Speaker, let me just give some examples. From the February 23 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer: "At two stops, morning at Drexel University; afternoon at Widener University, the Pennsylvania Republican Senator Santorum encountered skepticism and hostility as he voiced his support for the White House plan to allow privatization of personal accounts using payroll taxes. He was heckled by protesters, called a liar, and told that his views were unconscionable. Those sentiments ranged across the spectrum."

That is from the Philadelphia Inquirer. From the February 22 Washington Post: "At every stop, Representative Paul Ryan faced skeptics. Nancy McDonald, 66, who sells securities and insurance, complained in Darien that health care for the uninsured needs to be addressed before Social Security. 'Slow down! Slow down!' She scolded the lawmaker at one point."

And finally, Mr. Speaker, I take a quote from the February 22 Savannah Morning News. "At Armstrong Atlantic State University, the subject of Social Security caused a crowd of 200 to become rowdy. Questions were shouted out. The congressman," Congressman Kingston, "was interrupted. And one of Congressman Kingston's assistants was booed when she announced an end to the hour-long discussion."

These are just examples. In meeting after meeting Republicans got a chilly reception to the President's Social Security plan. Maybe that is why we heard today that Senate majority leader BILL FRIST thinks the Senate may not be able to take up the President's Social Security privatization plan until next year.

Mr. Speaker, many of my constituents are concerned about the President's plan. Unfortunately, they will not have the opportunity to voice those concerns to the President this Friday morning in Westfield, New Jersey. But we are going to be heard anyway. I have chartered a bus, and I am taking several dozen of my constituents to join people from all over New Jersey at a rally in support of truly strengthening Social Security.

We are going to go with the bus to Westfield, New Jersey, where the President is going to be, and maybe the President will send some of his staffers over so they can really hear from us how their plan is being received outside the White House. It is not being received well, because Americans are finally waking up to the fact that the President's privatization plan is bad for them, bad for Social Security, and bad for America.

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