Social Security Town Halls Show Bush Privatization Plan Sinking Like A Lead Balloon

WASHINGTON – Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn., and Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., this week held rival town hall meetings on Social Security in their neighboring states. Senator Corzine’s event in Paramus, N.J., drew more than 600 people opposed to privatizing Social Security. Sen. Santorum paid a heavy price from an angry crowd for his support of the president’s privatization plan.

The reaction at the two separate events illustrates how President Bush’s Social Security privatization plan is going over with the public – like a skunk at an outdoor wedding.

“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 creation 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 age spectrum.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, February 23, 2005]

“U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., told more than 600 seniors gathered in Paramus that Bush’s plan to allow people to divert some taxes into private investment accounts would result in steep benefit cuts, explode the national debt and insert risk into the nation’s social safety net…. John Sanders, a 60-year-old Maplewood resident who considers himself a ‘Barry Goldwater Republican’ and attended the AARP event out of ‘curiosity’ yesterday, said he thinks Bush’s plan is ‘stupid.’ ‘I can’t believe people are really thinking about the future of the country when they support this plan,’ said Sanders, who works for a bank and has two children and three grandchildren. ‘I’m concerned someone will be making profits from these retirement accounts, which would reduce the overall value to the public.’” [Newark Star Ledger, February 23, 2005]

“It’s a tale of two senators with two different ideas on Social Security, all hearing one message loud and clear: keep your hands off my Social Security,’” said Campaign for America’s Future Co-director Roger Hickey. “Sen. Santorum learned the hard way that the president’s plan is a stinker and is being received like a skunk at an outdoor wedding.”

A typical 20-year-old in Pennsylvania and New Jersey will lose $152,000 during retirement if Social Security’s guaranteed benefit is replaced with the president’s plan, according to reports released last week by the Campaign for America’s Future. It would also mean a 15-percent cut for a 45-year-old worker today and a 25-percent cut for a 35-year-old worker.

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