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June 24, 2005

President Bush comes to Blair

by Jeremy Goodman, Page Editor, Alex Mazerov, Page Editor and Danny Scheer, Page Editor
Last updated on June 25 at 8:00 p.m.

President George W. Bush came to Blair to host an event to promote his plan to add personal investment accounts to the Social Security system, on Thursday, June 23. His appearance in Silver Spring drew about 400 protesters to the Four Corners area.
President George W. Bush speaks in the Blair auditorium on June 23 during an event to promote his Social Security plan.
<i>Click on the photo to view a gallery of the day's events.</i> Alex Mazerov
President George W. Bush speaks in the Blair auditorium on June 23 during an event to promote his Social Security plan. Click on the photo to view a gallery of the day's events.

The event, entitled "A Conversation on Strengthening Social Security," was held in the Blair auditorium, and started around 10:00 a.m. Bush engaged in a half-hour long discussion on the auditorium stage with four other individuals, one of whom was Ben Stein, a comedian who graduated from Blair in 1962 who is the honorary chairperson of the National Retirement Planning Coalition (NRPC). Also participating were Wendy Merrill, a 32-year-old insurance broker from Reisterstown, MD; Brian Smart, a 23-year-old graduate of Radford University who recently entered the workforce; and Ben Ferguson, a student at the University of Mississippi and founder of Students for Saving Social Security. All of the panelists said they support the president's plan to create voluntary personal savings accounts.

Bush stated that Social Security as it stands today will be bankrupt by 2041 and that America needs new solutions to save it. "I saw a survey where it said younger workers feel like they're more likely to see a UFO than get a Social Security check," he said. The president emphasized the need for swift action on the issue. "The longer we wait, the harder it is for me to be able to look at younger Americans and say, 'The money you're putting in the system is going to be there for you.'"

The president laid out his plan to reform Social Security that would combine progressive indexing with the opportunity for individuals to invest a portion of their Social Security payments in stocks and bonds. He said he wants to create an "ownership society" so that Americans "from all walks of life" can say "This is mine; I own this." Bush added, "The more ownership there is in America, the better our future is."
President George W. Bush speaks in the Blair auditorium on June 23 during an event to promote his Social Security plan.
<i>Click on the photo to view a gallery of the day's events.</i> Alex Mazerov
President George W. Bush speaks in the Blair auditorium on June 23 during an event to promote his Social Security plan. Click on the photo to view a gallery of the day's events.

Stein agreed, saying that America is "woefully unprepared" for the retirement of future generations. He said that the answer is for Americans to invest in the stock market. "Let's let everybody get in on it," Stein said. "Let's let everybody get a chance to make some real money." He went on to say that "there has to a revolution of individual responsibility in this country."

Bush also criticized the Democrats' failure to present possible solutions for fixing Social Security. "I think it's time for the leadership in the Democrat Party to start laying out ideas." "Unfortunately, some are playing politics in Washington," he said later.

Bush emphasized that persons born before 1950 would be unaffected by his proposed plan. "Grandmothers and granddads have nothing to worry about," he stated.

The auditorium was filled to capacity with around 500 audience members who were transported to Blair in school buses. Those who attended the event came from a variety of organizations from different places around the world. Only people who received tickets to the event from the White House were allowed to enter the event. Blair students were not invited.
President George W. Bush speaks in the Blair auditorium on June 23 during an event to promote his Social Security plan.
<i>Click on the photo to view a gallery of the day's events.</i> Alex Mazerov
President George W. Bush speaks in the Blair auditorium on June 23 during an event to promote his Social Security plan. Click on the photo to view a gallery of the day's events.

A large portion of the audience was composed of interns working in Washington over the summer. "We are in favor of privatizing personal accounts," said one intern from Mt. Holyoke College, MA. Two other interns traveled from Long Beach, California, to hear Bush talk as well.

Approximately 200 interns from the Fund for American Studies an organization based at Georgetown University came to the event. Although one intern said she attended University of Maryland, College Park, many of the Fund for American Studies interns came from other places across the country and the globe, including Texas and Germany.

Members of the organization Students for Saving Social Security, established by Ferguson, also attended the event. Ferguson said that his organization has chapters at over 100 colleges across America and aims to get young people involved in the Social Security debate. "It was a great opportunity to hear the president speak," said William Fields, a member of the group who is from North Carolina.

The event was organized by the NRPC, which rented the buses from MCPS and the Blair facility through Montgomery County's Interagency Coordinating Board for Community Use of Public Facilities. "In the process of preparing for the visit, the [NRPC] made it know they needed shuttle transportation from remote sites" to bring people to the forum at Blair, said Kate Harrison, an MCPS spokeswoman.

A number of interns and volunteers from the Republican National Committee were also present at the event. They refused to comment for this article.

After the event in the auditorium, local Democrats held a press conference in the Blair student parking lot to voice their opposition to Bush's Social Security plan.

Video of the event, produced by Blair Network Communications, can be found here.

A transcript of "A Conversation on Strengthening Social Security" can be found here.

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  • ... on June 24, 2005 at 6:06 AM
    why at blair...
  • Earl on June 24, 2005 at 9:07 AM
    Bush just needs to go back to the White House. I wish he would stop pretending like he actually cares...........
  • Graduate on June 24, 2005 at 12:52 PM
    Publicity stunt thats why...too bad he missed out on inviting the PUBLIC to it...
  • merlyn on June 24, 2005 at 1:07 PM
    Oo; at BLAIR? That's...surprising.
  • Terri Shuck (View Email) on June 24, 2005 at 6:32 PM
    Silver Chips needs to address the merits of Bush's privatization scheme as well. Like Iraq, he's lying again about the problem and the solution for Social Security. Go to for the latest researc including the following link to a report on the impact of privatization on Maryland.
  • 06 rulz on June 24, 2005 at 8:47 PM
    From the whole country why to blair??
  • student on June 25, 2005 at 9:13 AM
    Hey its TJ and Matt in one of the pictures! Chips should have interviewed them cuz they GO to blair
  • :-) on June 25, 2005 at 9:16 AM
    "Only people who received tickets to the event from the White House were allowed to enter the school."

    This is not true, summer school students were still able to get into the school.
  • parent on June 25, 2005 at 3:51 PM
    Into the school, yet, but not into the event.
  • Madeleine Fletcher (View Email) on June 25, 2005 at 5:32 PM
    I was surprised that no one reported the fact that Blair staff were given a paid leave of absence that day. Who paid for that, and for the large police presence? That's Montgomery County taxpayer money, if I'm not mistaken. That's a lot more money than the amount for the rental of the auditorium and school buses, paid by the event sponsor, the National Retirement Planning Coalition (described by the Washington Post as a "financial industry and advocacy group"). So let me get this straight: we the taxpayers get to pay for a private event to which we are not invited, sponsored by the very industry that stands to profit hugely from Bush's plan to privatize social security. The protestors were right ... Bush and his cronies need to be privatized in a hurry.
  • cecilia on June 26, 2005 at 9:18 AM
    i'm disappointed so few people turned up at four corners.
  • Dumb Democrats= (View Email) on June 26, 2005 at 10:43 AM
    Graduate, if the public is not invited, then, it is not for publicity. You made up the publicity part and you put it backwards so you can have a jab at Bush. You should know better.

    Madeleine Fletcher, you are saying that Bush should not have rented the auditorium/paid for police with Montgomery County taxpayer money. So, you want Bush to go to some other place other than Montgomery County to have his meeting. Well, there, Bush is using some other county's taxpayer money. Therefore, because you hate the very idea that Bush uses taxpayer money, Bush can't have his meeting anywhere. Therefore, a big part of the government would not be able to run. Why? Because Madeleine Fletcher does not want taxpayer money to be used for stuff taxpayer money is SUPPOSED to be used for.
  • jeez you are annoying on June 26, 2005 at 5:00 PM
    Dumb Democrat,

    It seems that you comment on every Silver Chips article that challenges your views. Your comment to Madeleine just ran in circles to create the appearance that you knew what you were talking about. Bush could have held the Press Conference in many other counties, who, because they love Bush so much, wouldn't even care that their taxes go to carting him and his supporters around. I think Madeleine was just pointing out that Bush came to a county that does not support Bush, and then made them pay for him to show up. It's a slap in the face, to us "Dumb Democrats."
  • greg on June 27, 2005 at 12:33 AM
    I am surprised that no one has mentioned that this is just one of the President's many stops on his Social Security "Town Council" tour. The location is irrelevant because he is doing this all across the nation and they are televised anyway. I would just like to point out that the entire "Town Council" tour is a farce. President Bush gathers together a group of people that already agree with him and has this so called "council" of people saying how great his Social Security plan is. Anyone that would disagree with the plan is both not invited and strictly kept out of the meeting. You can not have a just town council to rally support if everyone that is allowed to attend is already a supporter. It is a shame and a disgrace that the President is unwilling to face those that disagree with him and is unwilling to address his own faults.
  • to dumb democrats/madeleine fl on June 28, 2005 at 2:03 PM
    It's likely that the event was sponsored by Bush's committee to re-elect, so any discussion of tax-dollars is probably moot.
  • uhh on June 28, 2005 at 5:59 PM
    How is it possible that this event was sponsored by Bush's committee to re-elect, given that the committee doesn't even exist anymore, and probably hasn't since november

    its obvious that our tax dollars paid for this shameless propaganda
  • student on June 29, 2005 at 9:40 AM
    to Cecilia:
    i think the main reasons there were only a "few people" at four corners are because its summer and some ppl are away, and because it wasn't well publicized. i know of many ppl who found out about the event after it happened.

    dumb democrats:
    could you please stop calling us dumb? We're dumb because we excersise free speech? We're dumb because we don't support a flawed social security plan? We're dumb because we dont support a failing war?
    hrmm . . .lets think about that
  • Graduated! on June 29, 2005 at 6:37 PM
    We're dumb because we don't support a flawed social security plan?

    I'm betting about 50% of liberals are against Bush's social security plan without knowing anything about it, just because Bush made it and they want to protest Bush.

    Another 49% are against it because all their liberal friends are against it so they wanna be "cool" too.
  • nice going on June 30, 2005 at 9:28 AM
    right on, graduated
  • Dumb Democrats= (View Email) on July 3, 2005 at 4:02 PM
    Jeez you are annoying, just because this county does not support Bush does not make it so that we can prevent him from visiting this county. He is authorized to use public places for his meetings.

    Graduated!, you are awesome.
  • Reality bite on July 14, 2005 at 8:33 PM
    fact of the matter is, there'll be many more of these. so this discussion here is just a waste of breath.
  • HEY! on August 11, 2005 at 2:35 AM
    You are all rediculous. I probably shouldn't even be typing this because it may (hopefully not) spawn more arguing. I love a good debate, and I love having silver chips here to facilitate good discussion. However, insulting each other and making comments based on speculation is not the way to carry out a good debate. "Dumb Democrats," get a new name, its insulting, rude, and no one wants to take you seriously because you start every message with an insult. Graduated, what you say may be true, but its not fact. Republicans vs. Democrats is the largest on-going feud and deserves to be treated as such. If you are going to verbally jab each other, do it with facts. "Graduated!," if you really believe that liberals are so uneducated about Bush's social security plan, then enlighten us! Tell us about it and what makes it so good. Maybe then the liberals can see your point of view and also be able to come back with some facts of their own. This is a serious topic, and you are all treating it like middle-school gossip!
  • Anonymous on August 12, 2005 at 12:06 AM
    So what exactly is the plan? I've read all the chips articles and posted this question in the poll on his plan, I haven't gotten a response once. A simple link would be fine. The idea of privatizing Social Security seems like a good one, but I would like to see the details. All the Democrats refuting it just say "don't take my healthcare" or something like that. Even though I am mainly liberal on most issues, I agree with Graduated. Whether right or wrong, they are no better than the republicans in Texas. Told by their parents and friends that Bush is evil and Democrats are good. If Kerry had won and sponsored this plan the majority would be for it. Not as much of a majority I hope, because I think some people may actually think for themselves, but I would be over 50% of the population will always vote Democrat regardless of the issue or candidate. Although I live with 2 heavily liberal parents, in a very liberal school (obviously), and generally agree with the liberal philosophy, I would have voted for 1 Libertarian (for president), 1 green party member, and 1 Republican. I'll bet almost 99% of the school just voted Democratic because they have been brainwashed, "Democrat good, Republican bad".

    Of course Dumb Democrats is the opposite, he only thinks "Republican good, Democrat bad". If Kerry toured the country and took up that much local taxpayer money he'd be upset. I think either both his parents are Republicans or they are both Democrats and he is just rebelling against them. He seems to put no thought into posts here, just the same old crap. Republican good, Democrat bad.
  • Dali Lama on August 18, 2005 at 9:39 PM
    The basic conclusion is that everyone, Democrats and Republicans, so-called and actual independents, etc., all pick up their positions on issues mainly from what they've already decided on past issues. For instance, "I dislike Bush, therefore I oppose his SS plans." Or conversly, "I like Bush, therefore I support his plan."

    As to the funding issue, it sounds like the NRPC took most of the cost, at least according to the article.

    HEY! is correct in saying that comments could us more facts, but I also think (s)he should chill out just a tad.
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