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Residents divided on how to spend surplus

January 30, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

Staley Shafer says it's not easy living on $219 a month.

That's the amount Shafer said he receives in his Social Security check. "I can't make it," he said.

The 79-year-old Maplesville resident is glad the government is trying to bolster Social Security, but he would also like to see a tax cut.

"We need both," he said. "I've been arguing that for some time."

Residents in the Tri-State area were divided on the question of how the federal government should spend its surplus. While some favor fixing Social Security, others think a tax cut is a more important priority.

Dick Amren, a 62-year-old Frederick, Md., resident, said, "I don't want the federal government investing my Social Security in the stock market. I don't think they're wise enough to do that."

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Donna Danhauer, 50, of Martinsburg, W.Va., said something similar. She is getting ready to retire, she said, and "I don't envision it's going to be any better if they add money to it. If they managed it well, it would be, but I don't trust them to manage it well."

Doug Hutzell, 48, of Beaver Creek, said it's better to have the cash in hand. A tax cut is more important "because you don't know when you're going to die," he said. "You want to enjoy your life." Hutzell believes in a uniform 10-percent tax rate.

The government has "squandered the Social Security fund," said David Kipp, 46, of Shady Grove, Pa. "I think I know what to do with my money better than the government does."

David Burkette, a 56-year-old Shepherdstown, W.Va., resident, echoed Kipp's comment. "Give the American people the chance to spend their own money," he said.

Social Security was created as a "stopgap" measure, Burkette said. "It's expanded beyond what was originally intended."

Erin Randshaw, 38, of Shepherdstown, said Social Security "is supposed to pay for itself." He said he pays 35 percent of his income to taxes and that's too much. "I think I could use it a lot more than they could."

Several people disagreed. "I don't think we need the tax cut that badly," said Shepherdstown resident Francis Sloate, 79.

"I don't think a tax cut would amount to much," said Jack Kunkle, 78, of Hagerstown.

"I'm headed to that age and I'd like to receive some of the benefits," said David Stoops, 49, of Waynesboro, Pa. "I paid my taxes now let the youngsters take over."

Mary Jane Lear, a 66-year-old Greencastle, Pa., resident, thinks maintaining Social Security will benefit future generations. "They say it's going to eventually run out of money," she said. "It might not run out in my lifetime but there's other people coming along."

In its own way, Social Security is "a forced savings," said Hayden Schwartz, a 58-year-old Shepherdstown resident. "I think a tax cut would disappear in our daily lives."

Many of the people interviewed said they would like to see a tax cut and an increase in the Social Security fund. "I think they are equally important," said Norm Curfman, 57, of Hagerstown.

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