Saturday, April 30, 2005

Voter for "The Bush" Says He Was Conned...

Locals discuss social security, energy policy

The 76-year-old retiree from Stewartstown said he voted for President Bush in 2004, but now he feels "conned." As Bush prepared Thursday to discuss his plans for remodeling both Social Security and the nation's energy policy with reporters, Waters and other senior citizens from York County expressed their views about the president's proposals.

Waters said he worries for future generations of his family.

"I feel that something has to be done to fix the shortfall that will occur," Waters said of federal projections that Social Security could be bankrupt in less than 40 years. "I'd hate to see my kids get gobbled up in that system."

Still, he said, private accounts — the mainstay of the Bush proposal — are not the answer.

During a live news conference Thursday night, Bush pushed for a Social Security plan that would allow for private retirement accounts for Americans born after 1955 but could also bring reductions in some benefits in the future.

Melvin Fifer, a 69-year-old former engineering manager, favored Bush's plan.

"I think it's something that young people need," he said, before the president's speech. Fifer added that his children, whose benefits would be affected under the president's proposals, also support Bush.

Pat Halsted, 76, of Delta, who opted for Bush's Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., in the 2004 election, resisted Bush's proposals, saying the system should not be changed.

"He wants to invest money that isn't his," she said.

Bush also addressed high gas prices. The House last week passed a controversial $8.1 billion energy bill that Bush and other lawmakers had conceded did nothing to immediately curb prices at the pump, despite several major initiatives.

"There will be no price gouging at gas pumps in America," Bush said Thursday night. Bush told reporters fixing the nation's energy problems would take time, and he suggested passing his energy policy was a necessary step.

The House bill calls for decreased dependence on foreign oil, but Clark Thomas doesn't buy it.

"That's just a smoke screen, in my opinion," said the 72-year-old York retiree. "And going into Iraq didn't help. I think it's made it worse."

A discouraged Waters said the president's appeals were doing little to change his mind. "I'm not a very religious guy, but every night I pray for the executive branch to gain some wisdom."


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