Skip to comments.Bush to woo Triangle on Social Security plan (Raleigh visit 2/10)
Posted on 02/09/2005 7:08:07 PM PST by Libloather
Bush to woo Triangle on plan
Published: Feb 9, 2005
President Bush speaks at an event at the U.S. Department of Commerce today in Washington.
AP Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais
By VALERIE BAUERLEIN, Washington Correspondent
WASHINGTON -- President Bush is coming to Raleigh on Thursday and bringing along U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole as an example of the rare politician who won office while pledging to change Social Security.
Bush visited five states in two days last week to discuss his plan to allow younger workers to invest part of their payroll taxes in private savings accounts. He continues his trek in the Triangle with an 11 a.m. town hall meeting at the BTI Center for the Performing Arts.
Bush will be host for an hourlong conversation with business leaders, seniors and young people who support his plan. In recent town halls, invitees have said they liked the ability to control their own Social Security and pass on the balance when they die.
Tickets will be tough to come by. Many are given to local backers, though a small number are available through the offices of Dole and Sen. Richard Burr.
President Bush's visit to Raleigh on Thursday to bolster his plan on Social Security will be his 12th since taking office.
In picking North Carolina for his visit, Bush chooses a state that voted for him twice.
He picks a state where the two Republican senators support his wishes to change what some consider the country's most sacred public program.
But he picks a state where five of the seven Republican U.S. House members are lukewarm on the idea -- at best.
Only Reps. Sue Myrick of Charlotte and Patrick McHenry of Cherryville favor the accounts.
The others? Not sure. They are getting mail and calls from people who are worried about Social Security, especially the 900,000 members of the state AARP, most of whom worry that change would mean reduced benefits.
Rep. Howard Coble of Greensboro said he finds the idea of personal accounts "inoffensive" but does not see the system as in crisis.
Rep. Walter Jones of Farmville said he'll wait and see what comes out of Congress.
Even Rep. Virginia Foxx of Banner Elk, who praised Bush's State of the Union address as magnificent, is not sold on private accounts.
One of Bush's top backers in North Carolina, Jim Culbertson, said he hopes the visit will bolster the unsteady.
"People have been scared of this issue, Republicans, for years and years," said Culbertson, state finance chair of Bush's presidential campaign. "We've got a leader who's trying to do something about it. I sure hope the Republicans get behind him."
Political scientist Andy Taylor sees Bush putting political muscle behind this push, more than other initiatives, as when he visited the state to promote health care.
"It's not just something they were going to spend three or four days after the State of the Union and go into hibernation," said Taylor of N.C. State University. "This may be indicative of more events to come around the nation.
"But it'll be a bad sign for them if they go to districts and states where they've got wavering Republican members."
Bush has been holding similar meetings across the country, attended by a select group of business leaders, senior citizens and young people who support his view.
At a retreat last month, the White House told members of Congress to follow Dole's lead on Social Security. She listed her support for a voluntary savings proposal, similar to a 401(k) retirement plan, in her campaign literature in 2002. When challenged by Democrat Erskine Bowles on Social Security, she held up a blank piece of paper and said that was Bowles' plan.
Among the last to hear about Bush's visit were Reps. Bob Etheridge, Brad Miller and David Price, the three Democratic House members who represent the Triangle. They had not received tickets as of late Tuesday.
They plan to hold a joint conference call after Bush's meeting to outline the reasons they oppose the plan. Foremost, they say taking payroll taxes out of Social Security will damage the program's longevity, not improve it. They also say Bush is omitting, in his speeches and the budget he proposed, the cost of implementing private accounts.
"I wish, with all my heart, that he would chart a course for a true bipartisan solution to secure Social Security for the long haul, rather than pursuing a partisan political marketing ploy," Etheridge said.
"Rather than provide a genuine plan to provide retirement security for everyone," former Sen. John Edwards said, "the president and his allies have come up with a plan that gives ordinary people no security and a windfall to those who need it least."
Burr's office said Bush is bold to take on Social Security, and the state is lucky to get him to visit.
"The president made it clear that he wants to spend time in places outside of Washington," said Doug Heye, Burr's spokesman. "Obviously, we're happy that North Carolina is among them."
(News researcher Brooke Cain contributed to this report.)
Bush to woo Triangle??
I wanted More Cowbell.
I'm in Raleigh NC right now on business. I'm hoping President Bush is successful during his visit; however, I'm more interested in getting out of town about noon. So, no haircuts on the tarmac, Mr President. Thank you.
This is a major RAT area of North Carolina I'll bet there will be many protesters.
I'm going to see Bush tomorrow. This will be the third time I've been to a Presdential event with the man. I got a ticket because I worked on the Dole and Burr Senate campaigns. I love GW.
I got a Golden Ticket 'cause GW loves my daughter, and wants to make sure she doesn't have to pay for my SS.
It was a great event. How did you get a golden ticket? I thought I was going to get to ask a question, but it did not happen. I've contributed quite a bit to the President and the GOP over the last few years, I need a hookup on golden tickets.
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