Bucks County Courier Times

Fifty Protest Bush's Plan

Bucks County Courier Times — Saturday, April 16, 2005


PEMBERTON TOWNSHIP — Hours before Vice President Dick Cheney spoke to supporters about the Bush administration plan to overhaul Social Security, a number of people who oppose the plan conveyed their message to passers-by.

A group of about 50 protesters organized by the watchdog group New Jersey Citizen Action stood along Pemberton-Browns Mills Road near the entrance to Burlington County College, holding signs demanding President Bush drop his plan to allow workers to set aside part of their Social Security payments to invest in private accounts.

They were joined by U.S. Reps. Rob Andrews, D-1st of Haddon Heights, and Frank Pallone Jr., D-6th of Long Branch, as well as state Assemblymen Herb Conaway, D-7th of Delanco, and Jack Conners, D-7th of Pennsauken.

"For nearly two months, President Bush and Vice President Cheney have traveled all around the nation on the taxpayers' dime trying to convince Americans to support their risky Social Security privatization plan," Pallone said. "In fact, the more Bush and Cheney travel, the less popular their plan becomes."

The protesters arrived about 8 a.m. and stood in a stiff wind for several hours as those attending the town hallstyle meeting arrived. Motorists sympathetic to their cause honked their horns as they drove past.

A Secret Service agent, state troopers and college security officers stood by to make sure the protest remained peaceful. The group disbanded before Cheney's motorcade appeared at about 11:45 a.m. The vice president's limousine passed directly in front of where the protesters had been standing.

Michela Colosimo of Mount Laurel said she opposes the administration's proposal because she fears it would allow businesses to stop paying Social Security taxes and would enrich brokerage houses.

She also said women have the most to lose under the president's plan.

"Many of them don't work or are working at low-wage jobs, so they're relying on Social Security," said Colosimo, 56, a retired teacher. "It's going to take trillions of dollars to convert [to a privatized system]."

George Hunt of Maple Shade said he opposes the plan because there are no assurances that private investment accounts will generate enough income to finance retirements.

"If they allow you to take even a part of your Social Security and invest, they'll no longer guarantee you'll get something," said Hunt, 80, who retired from RCA and General Electric. "That's not what Social Security is intended to be. It's a safety net."

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