Burlington County Times

Protesters Want To Discuss Social Security Changes

Burlington County Times — Friday, May 20, 2005

By JOHN REITMEYER
Burlington County Times

MOUNT HOLLY — A group of about 20 protesters spent an hour outside the office of U.S. Rep. Jim Saxton yesterday, urging him to meet with them to discuss proposed changes to the Social Security program.

Saxton, R-3rd of Mount Holly, was in Washington, D.C., all day and missed the event, which was organized by New Jersey Citizen Action, a statewide organization with paid and volunteer members affiliated with labor, the NAACP and other advocacy groups.

The gist of the protest was Saxton's failure thus far to meet with the organization to discuss what it feels is a bad plan for Social Security put forth by President Bush. The protesters held up signs, passed out fliers and chanted slogans such as, "Hey Mr. Saxton, Where do you stand?"

"We feel like this (protest) is one of the only recourses we have," said Juanita Howard, the organizer of the event.

Bush wants the Social Security program to include voluntary personal-investment accounts for anyone born after 1950. The organization believes the plan is tantamount to privatizing Social Security and opposes it.

Saxton has yet to come up with a position on the Bush proposal, other than to say the future solvency of Social Security is an important issue that needs to be fully debated.
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Saxton's spokesman said yesterday the congressman does agree with Bush's position that any changes shouldn't affect current benefit recipients or those who are about to begin receiving benefits.

"That seems to be one of the components he supports," spokesman Jeff Sagnip Hollendonner said. He also stressed that the issue has to be looked at since the pay-as-you-go system is headed for trouble because there will be more people drawing benefits than paying for them. He didn't commit to the town-meeting format the protesters called for, but said the congressman would do something to accommodate the organization.

"We're certainly going to respond to their concerns," he said.

Chuck Van Artsdalen, an Evesham resident and member of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1360, said he's just looking for the congressman to take a position.

"If Mr. Saxton is for the people of Burlington County, he will be on our side," he said.

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