Shreveport Times: ‘Seniors reaffirm their fight against Social Security privatization’

Seniors reaffirm their fight against Social Security privatization

Shreveport Times (LA)

June 21, 2006

By Terry L. Jones

Accompanied by a 28-foot inflatable blue gorilla, more than a dozen area seniors with Americans United rallied on the manicured lawn of U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery's Youree Drive office to reinforce their protest against the privatization of Social Security.

Tuesday's rally was sparked because of statements made by the Republican lawmaker before Congress on June 6. In the statement, McCrery challenged Congress to make Social Security overhaul a top priority in 2007.

That's something Americans United members fear could lead to more than $150,000 in benefit cuts for the middle class, communication director Alex Morgan said.

"We just want to remind him that we're still here," Morgan said as drivers cruising by the intimate protest honked to show their support.

Morgan said the national organization, formerly called Americans Untied to Protect Social Security, successfully defeated the privatization plan in 2005, and they are prepared to continue the fight.

"We're here to stay," Morgan said. "We defeated the effort before and we'll do it again if it takes having gorillas all over the place."

The gorilla, Morgan said, represents the "overarching component of the Bush/McCrery privatization proposal."

The protest was originally scheduled for June 16, but was rescheduled because of thunderstorms and strong winds, two factors that weren't an issue Tuesday.

The turquoise canopy of blue sky and radiant sunbeams proved to be a welcoming embrace for the protesters passionate about having their voices heard.

"If Congressman McCrery is interested in securing Social Security, he could open up a real bipartisan forum and stop shutting the Democrats out of the decision-making process," said Clifford Jordan, a 55-year-old Bossier City native.

Bob Brown, local president of Untied Automobile Workers of America, said privatizing Social Security would end up taking money away from his children in the future.

UAW Chairman John Donaho said, "Why should we trust our Social Security in an administration that has done nothing but lie to the American people?"

Morgan said if McCrery's agenda is successful it could turn the federal government into the largest stockbroker in the country.

McCrery didn't make an appearance at Tuesday's protest, and Morgan admitted to not having spoken with the congressman as of yet.

"The federal government is trying to put their hands in people's pockets," Morgan said. "Congress is just out of step with what the American people want."