400 Protesters Turn Out Against Bush's Social Security Snake Oil In Maryland-Another Hand-Picked Audience for BushSomervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


400 Protesters Turn Out Against Bush's Social Security Snake Oil In Maryland-Another Hand-Picked Audience for Bush

23 June 2005 at 7:33:39 PM

Benson was among more than 400 people who gathered outside the school where Bush was promoting his plan to partially privatize Social Security by allowing Americans to invest part of their Social Security taxes and manage those investments for their own benefit.

While the protesters were kept away from Bush, they left their assigned demonstration location and surged across University Boulevard to the sidewalk outside the school where their signs and their shouts could be seen and heard by supporters of Bush, who stood in a slow-moving line to clear security before disappearing into the school.

Police agreed to allow the demonstrators to remain on the sidewalk just off school grounds.

The atmosphere outside the school was festive, with a mixed crowd ranging from children to people old enough to collect Social Security waving signs, encouraging motorists driving past to honk their horns and shouting out slogans. With four drummers providing the beat, the crowd at one point chanted, "Hey Bush. Hey Cheney. Hands off my granny."

Bush has made the overhaul of Social Security his top domestic priority, and he has been traveling around the country appearing at what the White House calls town hall meetings. But admission to the Montgomery County event was limited to people with tickets, which several protesters who tried to gain admission were told were handed out by the Republican Party.

At a news conference after Bush left, recent Montgomery Blair graduate Cory Choy scoffed at the notion that the meeting was an open forum for the president to hear people's ideas about Social Security.

If Bush wanted a town hall, "he wouldn't have brought in two whole buses of White House interns from across the country to represent my community," Choy said.

Several Democratic officials and liberal political activists trashed the president's Social Security plans at the news conference sponsored by Progressive Maryland, a liberal lobbying group.

"Why are we trying to gut a program that has done so much for seniors?" Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan asked.

"We have a responsibility in this country to look out for each other," Duncan said, adding that if the president's policies succeed, "the ethic in this country is going to be 'I've got mine...'"

U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen told the crowd, which included a number of current and former Montgomery Blair High School students, that he would ask Bush to come back in the fall and speak to all students instead of a hand-picked audience of his supporters.

"I'm confident when they hear him, they will give him an F grade," Van Hollen said.

Progressive Maryland released a study that Tom Hucker, the executive director, said shows that under Bush's plan, 92,000 older people in Maryland whose incomes are above the federal poverty level "would be plunged into poverty."


Sean Conney, a former student at Montgomery Blair High School, bangs on a drum Thursday, June 23, 2005, near the school along Colesville Road in Silver Spring, Md, during a demonstration. Protesters gathered outside the high school where President Bush was conducting one of his forums on his plan to partially privatize the Social Security system. (AP Photo/Timothy Jacobsen)

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