President George Bush spoke today (Wednesday) in a forum on Social Security at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. Bush is on a nationwide tour to try to drum up support for his proposed changes in Social Security and he was joined on the Iowa trip by Senator Chuck Grassley. Bush says Grassley is going to help him fix the system. “He’s stubborn,” Bush said, “I’m going to be stubborn on the issue, and we’re going to keep working this until we get something done…Now’s the time to address tough problems before it gets acute for younger generations of Americans.” Bush talked informally with some Iowans who joined him on the stage, including Dennis Bogaards, a farmer from Pella. Bogaards and his family formed a company for their farm. As a partial owner of it, Bogaards says he sees 6.2 percent taken out for the owner’s share and also a portion taken out on behalf of his position as an employee, so “I’m takin’ a double hit.” The president agreed, calling him a small businessman who’s sending money “into the system, wondering whether or not that which he contributed into will exist.” Bogaards also said he wants to be sure the money he pays into Social Security goes to his family, explaining that in a farming operation it’s important to have the money not “go away” and be available to his kids if they want to continue the family farm. “Right,” the president replied. Bush called Bogaards a good example of the type of people who’re worried about the future of Social Security. “Here’s a guy who farms the land sittin’ up here with the president talkin’ about his worries about Social Security solvency,” Bush said. “This issue’s beginning to permeate.” The president said whether they’re on a tractor or anywhere else in society, people are beginning to hear the message. “We have a problem,” Bush said. Bush noted he’s spending 60 days on the road to spread that message. Bush said once he’s spread the message that there’s a problem, and the public responds, then Congress will be forced to do something about it. Bush also talked with 20-year-old Chris Knudsen, a Kirkwood College student. Knudsen said the last six summer’s he’s earned a small check working at a scout camp and has seen Social Security and taxes takern off the top. He said over that six year period, he saw more and more taken out of his check, and wondered where it’s going. The President responded, citing a survey of people Chris’s age that he said finds that age group believes “they’re more likely to see a UFO than to get a Social Security check.” Knudsen agreed, chucking. Bush said the system has changed a lot in 70 years and people like Knudsen know more about investing and should have the chance to invest part of their Social Security money. Bush reiterated that the changes will not impact those who currently get a Social Security check, but he said the system must be fixed to help people like Knudsen. Organizers say about 1350 people attended the speech and they had to turn away another 400.
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