Author says be angry over Bush's Social Security plan

April 19, 2005|by DAVE MCMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.VA. - Calling for action similar to a "civil rights movement," an economist who spoke at a forum on Social Security this week at Shepherd University told about 100 people Monday night to get angry over what the federal government is doing to the retirement program.

Allen W. Smith has been critical of President Bush's plans to privatize Social Security and is calling attention to the way the federal government is handling Social Security funds.

Smith said during the two-day forum at Shepherd University that the federal government has borrowed $1.7 trillion from the Social Security program and spent it in other areas.


In addition to that money, Smith said Monday night the federal government is currently taking about $400 million a day in Social Security revenue and using it to fund the war in Iraq and other areas.

If the federal government continues to divert $400 million a day from Social Security in coming years, it never will be able to pay back its debt to Social Security, Smith said.

Smith encouraged those in attendance Monday in the Frank Center to get angry with the federal government and demand that funds earmarked for Social Security stay in the program.

"I see this as Democracy in action," Smith said. "This is a crisis made in Washington," said Smith, his voice booming at times through the auditorium.

Smith said some of the $400 million being diverted from Social Security was used to pay for Bush's tax cuts.

In other words, the money to pay for the tax cuts came "out of your pocket," said Smith, who has written two books, "The Looting of Social Security: How the Government is Draining America's Retirement Account" and "The Alleged Budget Surplus, Social Security, and Voodoo Economics."

Virginia Graf, a Charles Town, W.Va., resident who helped develop the forum, said she felt it was important to have such a discussion given all the talk about social security possibly going bankrupt.

Graf is treasurer of the Jefferson County Organization of Democratic Women, one of six organizations which sponsored the forum.

The forum featured a panel of financial, government and academic experts who talked about facts relating to Social Security and results of their research into the public retirement system.

During Monday night's session, Jefferson County resident Frances Latterell asked Smith why something was not written into the Social Security law that would prohibit Social Security revenues from being spent in other areas.

Smith responded by saying the founders of the system simply did not envision "what the government has pulled."

Also speaking Monday night was James Roosevelt Jr., grandson of former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who started the Social Security program.

Roosevelt said privatization of Social Security will result in more federal government costs, massive debt and a collapse of the system.

"We need to protect the middle class and the working class," said Roosevelt, a former associate commissioner for retirement policy of the Social Security Administration.

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