Press of Atlantic City

Cape Democrats Host Debate On Social Security Plan

Press of Atlantic City — Sunday, May 15, 2005

Staff Writer

The Cape May County Federation of Democratic Women rallied opposition Saturday to the privatization of Social Security.

The central issue has been how long the dwindling number of American workers can sustain this fund for retirees, widows and the disabled. President Bush says the system will start losing money in 2017 and go bankrupt by 2041. But the speakers Saturday said Republicans fudged the economic forecast to present a worst-case scenario.

Cape May Point resident Robert Molluck owns the Cape May National Golf Club in Lower Township.

"People rob a bank because that's where the money is. The attempt here is to rob Social Security because that's where the money is," he said. "It's not bankrupt."

More than 50 people attended the two-hour forum at the Cape May County Vocational-Technical High School.

The most vocal national opponent of the plan has been the AARP, which launched an advertising campaign to oppose the reforms.

Marilyn Askin, president of the New Jersey chapter, said the middle class stands to lose the most under the proposal. Under Bush's plan, benefits for workers with the lowest incomes would increase at a greater rate than people who make more.

"The AARP is adamantly opposed to making Social Security only a welfare safety net," she said. "The AARP does not want Social Security to become a social welfare program."

Juanita Howard of the nonprofit group Citizen Action said Social Security is not just for retirees. Many people rely on benefits as a life-insurance policy when a spouse dies, she said.

While Saturday's forum was hosted by Democrats. Cape May resident Virginia Hesel said Social Security should not be a partisan issue.

President Bush has been promoting the keystone of his domestic agenda at Republican-friendly audiences across the country. On Friday, the topic dominated his speech to the National Association of Realtors.

Cape May Point resident Helena Bew said the Cape May County forum was noticeably one-sided for a reason.

"Why would we do that (give equal time) when the president is spending our tax dollars on these hullabaloo 'town meetings?'" she asked. "It's already a one-sided debate."

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