Social Security Reform
March 4, 2005
Thanks for coming. (Applause.) Okay, let's get to
work. Thanks for coming. A hundred years since a President has been
here -- I don't know what took the other ones so long to get here.
(Laughter.) Mr. Mayor, thanks. Mayor Greg McDermott, I appreciate
your inviting me here, appreciate you being at the airport.
(Applause.) I appreciate you and the local officials putting up with
the entourage. Thank you all for coming.
My regret is Laura is not with me. She is doing great, though.
She is a fabulous woman, and I'm a lucky guy that she had agreed to
marry me. (Applause.)
I've got some things I want to talk about. I want to talk about
freedom and peace. I want to talk about growing this economy. I want
to talk about Social Security. Before I do so, I do want to say thanks
to Congressman Mike Ferguson for his great leadership in the House of
Representatives. (Applause.) And Maureen -- good to see you,
Maureen. I see her, she's doing great. Thanks for coming.
Rodney Frelinghuysen is with us. Rodney, thank you, sir.
(Applause.) Rodney and I were talking about, on Air Force One, how
hard it is to be a baby boomer and trying to jog. (Laughter.) Part of
the problem we're going to face in Social Security is there's a lot of
baby boomers like me and Rodney who are getting ready to retire. But
I'm going to wait a little bit and talk about that.
I want to thank Scott Garrett for joining us -- Congressman Scott
Garrett. (Applause.) I'm very honored that Congressman Steve Rothman
is with us. I'm honored you're here, Congressman. Thanks for coming.
I appreciate you coming. Thanks for being here. (Applause.)
I want to thank -- there's a Congressman you probably have never
heard of -- or maybe you have. I shouldn't do that. I mean, that's
unfair. I'm going from New Jersey to South Bend, Indiana, and a good
fellow from South Bend who happens to be the Congressman, said, can I
have a ride, and I said, you bet. And his name is Chris Chocola, from
South Bend, Indiana. Congressman, thanks for coming. (Applause.)
Mike Chertoff -- anybody ever heard of him? He's now at the
Department of Homeland Security. (Applause.) Raised right here.
(Applause.) So we're standing on the stage during the swearing-in --
or maybe right before or right after -- and he said, tell the home
folks "thanks." So, okay, Chertoff said "thanks." (Applause.) And I
say thanks to Mike Chertoff for agreeing to serve in the Department of
Homeland Security. He has got a big job. (Applause.) But he's
capable of handling that job, and that job is to do all we can to make
sure all federal agencies work together to protect the American
And speaking about protecting the American people, I want to thank
the family members and the supporters of the Guard unit right here from
this armory that is in Iraq right now. (Applause.) When you email
your loved one, tell them the Commander-in-Chief is incredibly proud,
and so is the rest of the country. And we are thankful for the
sacrifice and service not only of the men and women who wear the
uniform, but of their families, as well. (Applause.)
I want to thank -- welcome Jason Reed, 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist
in rowing. I appreciate you coming, Jason. Good job. (Applause.)
Today when I landed, I met John Herrmann. John is a volunteer with
the retired and senior volunteer program of Union County, New Jersey.
What he does -- he knows something about accounting, and so at tax time
he helps the disabled or low-income or elderly individuals fill out
their tax forms. What he is -- he's a soldier in the army of
compassion. He's a person who has taken his life -- time out of his
life to lend his talent to help a neighbor in need.
And the reason I bring that up is there's all kinds of ways to
serve our country. We've got those wearing the uniform serving our
country, whether it be abroad or here at home. But you can serve your
country, as well, by feeding the hungry; or finding shelter for the
homeless; or helping a low-income person fill out a tax reform [sic].
You can serve your country just like John Herrmann is by volunteering
and loving a neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourselves. If
you want to serve America, do so by helping save a soul and save a
life. This country's real strength is the hearts and souls of our
American citizens. (Applause.)
We're living in amazing times. I want the youngsters here to just
remember the times in which you are growing up. In Afghanistan,
millions voted for a President. The Palestinians elected a new
leader. (Applause.) In Iraq, over 8 million people -- in spite of the
violence, in spite of the threats -- said, we refuse to be intimidated,
we're going to vote, we want to be free. (Applause.)
Freedom is a powerful force for good. That's what the youngsters
have got to recognize; and that freedom is just not a Western idea,
freedom is not an American idea, freedom is -- in my judgment -- a gift
from a higher being, a higher power. Everybody desires to be free.
(Applause.) And the job of the United States is to work with others to
help people realize what's deep in their soul, and that is the desire
to live in a free society. And it's in our interest we do so.
Many of you were affected by the attacks of September the 11th.
We'll stay on the hunt. We'll disrupt al Qaeda; we'll find them
wherever they hide. But I will tell you the long-term solution to
defeating hatred and hopelessness and the dark vision of al Qaeda and
the likes of them is to spread freedom and hope around the world. And
that's what you're seeing today. (Applause.)
It's an amazing time. I just came back from Europe. I had a great
trip. I want to thank our friends overseas for being such wonderful
hosts to Laura and me. I sat down with the French President and we
came -- we understand some things. And one of the things we really
understand is that Syria -- Syrian troops, Syrian intelligence
services, must get out of Lebanon now. (Applause.)
Lebanon is a democracy. Lebanon is a democracy, and we strongly
support that democracy. I was pleased that Crown Prince Abdallah of
Saudi Arabia sent the very same message. (Applause.) The world is
beginning to speak with one voice. We want that democracy in Lebanon
to succeed, and we know it cannot succeed so long as she is occupied by
a foreign power, and that power is Syria. There's no half-measures
involved. When the United States and France and others say, withdraw,
we mean complete withdrawal, no half-hearted measures. (Applause.)
And those of you who are trying to analyze our foreign policy, just
remember, democracy leads to peace, the peace we all want for our
children and our grandchildren.
The economy is getting better. Today we got some good news. We
added 262,000 new jobs last month. (Applause.) The national
unemployment rate is 5.4 percent. It's 4.2 percent right here in the
great state of New Jersey, and that's good news. (Applause.) But
we're living in a dynamic world, things change, and the fundamental
question is, what do we do to keep our economy growing. I've told the
Congress one way to do so is to make sure we've got certainty in the
tax code. They need to make the tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)
I sent up a budget that says I understand we need to do something
about the deficits, and I'm looking forward to working with the Budget
Committees in both the House and the Senate. I thought it was pretty
smart of me to say to the American people at the State of the Union,
we're going to be wise about how we spend your money and if a program
is not working, we're not going to spend the money on it. (Applause.)
Seems realistic and logical. (Applause.)
I want to thank the House and the Senate for getting a good piece
of legal reform to my desk. One way to make sure the economy continues
to grow is to make sure the scales of justice are balanced. They were
not balanced when it came to class-action lawsuits. Too many
class-action lawsuits were driving too many good people out of
business, which meant people weren't able to find a job. And so we
reformed the class-action lawsuit system in America for the better.
And they need to do the same thing on asbestos reform and medical
liability reform. (Applause.)
I can spend a lot of time on a lot of subjects, but Laura told me,
you're going to have some panelists up there, give them a chance to
speak. (Laughter.) I will in a minute. (Laughter.) I know, I'm
going on too long. I'm just getting warmed up, then. Here we go. Let
me talk about -- let me get right to the subject at hand. I've asked
some of our fellow citizens to join us on an incredibly important
subject, and that's Social Security.
First, let me say to you that the Social Security system has been a
very important system, and I understand that. Social Security has
provided a safety net for many retirees. And that's an important
safety net. But the safety net has got a hole in it, and we need to
make sure we save that safety net for future generations of Americans
The first thing I want to tell you about Social Security is that if
you're getting your check, nothing will change. No matter what the
talk is about reform, nothing will change. I don't care what the ads
say, I don't care what the scare tactics say, you're going to get your
check, just like the government said. (Applause.) The problem isn't
for the seniors; the problem is for the youngsters coming up. The
question is, will you get your check? Will we be able to keep the
A lot of people say, well, Mr. President, you're talking about
Social Security, it's called the third rail of American politics. That
means, if you touch it, you get a huge electric shock. Now, why are
you talking about it? Well, you're going to hear me describe the
problem. But I think we have a duty in elected office to confront
problems, and not pass them on to future Presidents, future Congresses,
and future generations. (Applause.)
I didn't run for office to dodge problems. And I don't think the
American people -- I don't care what your political party is, they
don't -- I think the American people expect us all to confront problems
and deal with them in a fair, open way. That's what I think.
Now, let me tell you why I think we got a problem. And me and
Rodney are part of the problem; we're baby boomers and we're fixing to
retire. (Laughter.) Matter of fact, a lot of us turn 62 in 2008.
That's the time you start to retire, and there's a whole lot of us.
Yet we're living longer. We're living longer than the previous
generations of Americans. So you got more people retiring who are
living longer, plus we have been promised greater benefits than the
previous generation. So we got more people living longer getting
bigger benefits. And the problem is, is that the number of people
paying into the system is shrinking.
If you look over here, in the '50s, 16 people were paying into the
system to pay for one retiree. So if that person was to get $14,200,
say, it would be $900 a payer. The system now is 3.3 people paying
into the system. In a decade it's going to be two people paying in the
system. Now, this is a pay-as-you-go system. In other words, it says
when you retire, somebody is going to have to pay for your benefits.
This is not a -- this is not a savings account. One of the myths of
Social Security is that your money is going into it and the government
is holding it and saving it for you. That's not the way it works.
Your money is going into the system and it's getting spent -- some of
it on retirement benefits, other parts on just general government. And
there's an IOU, a paper IOU accumulating. But it's not just sitting
there. There's not an account with your name that's saying, on behalf
of you, the government has now got your money. That's not the way it
works. So it's a pay-as-you-go. It goes in and goes out.
Now, let me give you some numbers about the consequences of what
we're talking about, and this chart says it pretty good. Right now,
there are more people paying in -- the money coming in on payroll taxes
is greater than the money going out, and that's the black part of the
chart. But very soon, in a very quick period of time -- as a matter of
fact, in 2018, the money going out exceeds the money coming in, in
Social Security. In other words, baby boomers like me, who will be
living longer and have been promised greater benefits, are going to
start saying, send me my check. And those of you paying in are going
to have to start to pay into a system that is going into the red every
year. As you can see, that number gets worse and worse as time goes
In 2028, the number of -- the amount of the money that needs to be
paid in order to make the promises is $200 billion a year above and
beyond payroll taxes. And it gets bigger every year. It gets into
$300 billion a year. So when you got more money going out, in terms of
the promises made to baby boomers retiring, and fewer people paying in,
this thing gets into the red in a real hurry. That's why I say we got
Now, 2018, some would say, that's not -- that's pretty far down the
road, isn't it? Think about that -- 2018, if you're a mom with a
five-year-old child, that person's going to be driving and you're going
to get gray hair before you know it. (Laughter.) I mean, we're
talking about right around the corner, when you think about it. Those
of us in public office must look down the road. We can't say, well,
don't worry, I'm on a two-year term, or I'm on a six-year term, or I'm
on a four-year term, we'll just let somebody else deal with it.
Because the longer you wait, the harder the problem is.
Imagine waiting until 2018 and you're a young worker and the
government says, oh, by the way, I'm going to have to raise your
payroll taxes again in order to pay for the benefits we promised, or,
we're going to have to slash this program, that program. I mean,
eventually, when you're spending at least $200 billion above and beyond
that which you've got in payroll taxes and increases every year,
something drastic has to happen. If we act now, we can do so in a way
that saves the system for younger workers.
I'm going to tell you again, I'm going to keep saying it all around
the country -- and I like doing this, by the way. I like going around
the country saying, folks, we have got a problem. And I like saying to
people, don't worry about it if you've been born prior to 1950.
Nothing changes, you're going to get what you're promised. But I'm
also saying to younger workers, you better listen carefully to this
debate because you're the ones who are going to have to pay for it.
And if I were you I'd be saying, well, if we have a problem, Mr.
President, what do you and the Congress intend to do about it?
Right now we're wondering whether we've got a problem. I've been
reading the newspapers and been seeing some folks saying, there's not a
problem, he's just exaggerating. Well, I'm going to keep telling
people we've got a problem until it sinks in, because we've got one.
The facts are irrefutable. You can't dodge whether we have a problem
or not. Because, see, the next follow-on question to that is, if
you've got a problem, what do you Republicans and Democrats and a few
independents intend to do about it up there? Are you going to sit
around and play politics? Or are you going to get at the table and do
your duty as public servants?
And so I started that process; when I gave my State of the Union, I
said, put your ideas on the table. I said, come on, bring some ideas
forward; we have an obligation. And I reminded people that Senator
Daniel Patrick Moynihan had some good ideas; President Clinton, my
predecessor, had some good ideas; former Democrat Congressman Tim Penny
had some good ideas -- all of them interesting ideas that need to be in
the mix in order to permanently solve this problem.
And so I want to say again to folks who are listening here today,
I'm really interested in working with members of both parties to be
able to say we've done our duty. Now, I've got some ideas and I wanted
to share one of the ideas with you right now. I believe in order to
make the system work better for younger workers, they ought to be able
-- be allowed to, at their choice, to take some of their own money and
set it aside in a personal savings account. That's what I think we
ought to consider. (Applause.)
Let me tell you why it makes sense to me that -- first of all, the
government can't meet its promises. But one way for a younger worker
to come close to what the government has promised is to be able to take
a portion of the money and get a better rate of return on your own
money than that which the Social Security system gets. See, there's
something called the compounding rate of interest. That's when you set
aside a dollar, or a series of dollars and it grows over time. And
obviously, if the rate on your money is 2 percent, it will grow at a
certain pace; if it's 4 percent, it grows double that. And right now
the money -- your money is earning very little compared to what you can
get in conservative stocks and bonds and investments. I'm talking
conservative. I'm not talking about lottery, taking it to the track.
(Laughter.) A conservative mix of stocks and bonds just like federal
employees get in the Employee Thrift Savings Plan. (Applause.) And
just like we give people who work for the government. You can take
some of your own money, set it aside, and watch it grow.
Do you realize that if you're a person who earns an average of
$35,000 a year over your working career, $35,000, and you're allowed to
take -- put 4 percent of the money -- the payroll tax aside in a
personal account and you hold it over time, that when you retire,
you'll save a quarter-of-a-million dollars. That's your money. That
money, by the way, the quarter-of-a-million dollars, is the capital
account. Now, you can't spend all that the minute you retire. This is
a retirement account we're talking about. But it's your money, and the
interest off that money goes to supplement the Social Security check
that you're going to get from the federal government. See, personal
accounts is an add-on to that which the government is going to pay
you. It doesn't replace the Social Security system. It is a part of
making -- getting a better rate of return, though, so -- to come closer
to the promises made. That's important to know.
Secondly, you just can't take it all out. I mean, it's a
retirement system. There will be rules about withdrawal. You can't
put it in certain things if you -- start-ups. There are guidelines to
encourage you to make the right kind of investments. Now, you can
alter stocks and bonds and different things -- your choice. But it's
been proven that when you hold money over a period of time in safe,
conservative investments, it gets a better rate of return than the
money you get in the Social Security system. So there will be
guidelines about what you can invest in.
We've got to make sure the system is fair to poor Americans. And
so there's ways to make sure the benefit structure is fair. But let me
talk to you about investing. There's a certain notion in America that
the investor class is only a certain type of person. I just don't
believe that. I don't subscribe to that. I don't think that's what
America is about. I think we ought to encourage people from all walks
of life to own something. I think ownership is a vital part of being a
productive citizen in our country. I think we ought to encourage
ownership, not discourage ownership. And I think we ought to recognize
people from all walks of life are plenty capable about managing their
own affairs. (Applause.)
I'm getting ready, hold on. I'm winding down here. (Laughter.)
Think about a system where you've accumulated a nest egg of your own --
the $35,000-a-year person, a quarter-of-a-million-dollar nest-egg --
and that when you pass on, you can leave it to whom you want. In other
words, that person can then take it and spend it tomorrow if they feel
like it. But it's your asset. See, it's your money to begin with.
The Social Security system today -- if you're a young widow and the
money your husband put in, there's nothing there. There's no asset.
There's a government promise that at a certain age you'll get a
stipend. But there's no assets there, see? And so what we're talking
about is really changing how the system works so that your money can
earn a better rate of return, and that after your -- when you pass on,
you can pass that money on to whomever you want. So we're talking
about helping people build up an asset base, which I think is a vital
part of a stable future. It also has the added benefit of providing
more savings. And when there's more savings, there's more investment.
And when there's more investment, there's more jobs. It will be good
for the economy, as well.
So I'm interested in this idea. I'm excited about it. I've spent
a lot of time talking about it to people. I understand we're going to
have to explain to people over time when we talk with Congress how this
works. I've said it makes sense to phase it in very slowly so that we
can better afford the transition cost to go from one system to
another. But I'll tell you this: If we don't act, we're looking at
about an $11 trillion hole for the American taxpayers that are coming
up. This is a big liability -- not for me and baby boomers. We're
fine. Rodney and I are just fine. We lucked out when it came time to
-- the year we were born.
But if you're born -- if you're a young worker, you've got a
problem. And I repeat, I hope -- I hope that as time goes on and this
debate goes forward, that you understand the power of your voice to say
to people, we've seen enough of this, we're not going to move because
somebody might look good, or, we don't want to do it because my
political party told me not to do something. Now is the time to get
rid of all that -- all that deadlock in Washington, and focus on the
problem for the good of the generation to come. (Applause.)
All right. Olivia Mitchell is with us. Olivia, tell us what you
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I appreciate that Olivia. It is very
important for those folks -- and, listen, I understand there's a lot of
people who rely exclusively on their Social Security checks, and I know
that. And it is very important for people to not be frightened by the
discussion about making sure your grandchildren have got a system
around. I mean, one of the great things about the generation who now
relies upon Social Security is there's a deep concern about generations
coming up. And this really is a generational issue, and I want to
thank you for bringing that up.
Speaking about that, we've got John Bly with us. Welcome.
MR. BLY: Hi, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: How are you?
MR. BLY: Fine, thank you.
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I appreciate you, John. Thanks, good job,
thank you, very good. (Applause.)
See, I think the operative word is that he's not worried about
getting his check. Counts on his check, not worried about it. That's
what I -- one of the things I'm going to continue saying around this
country, and by the way, this is state number 10, and tomorrow is 11,
and I'm keeping moving. I just say, I'm going to a lot of places.
(Applause.) I'm not going to go away on this issue because it's vital,
and we've got to do something for the younger folks.
And the fact that John said he's not worried about the check, the
check that he's been promised, is an important statement. He said, I
need it and I'm not worried about it. And I want others to hear that,
as well. Then he invited -- Lisa -- who invited who? Did you invite
Dad or did he invite himself?
MS. ENGLER: Well, the truth of the matter is, I need my parents on
a regular basis to help me, because I have five children --
THE PRESIDENT: Five kids, that's good, yes.
MS. ENGLER: -- and I really can't do it all on my own. So anyway,
yes, I'm Lisa Engler. I'm here with my husband, Will. We have five
THE PRESIDENT: Right. John is your dad.
MS. ENGLER: My dad. And Social Security, of course, for me is an
issue, because not only did I work in the work force for 10 years and
saw a big chunk of my money go into Social Security, and all the senior
managers telling me, you know, it may not be here for you; invest in
401(k) -- but now, looking at the numbers and everything, it's very
frightening as a parent. I have a three-month-old who, at the age of
65, this system will be bankrupt for almost 30 years. It's
THE PRESIDENT: In 2042, it goes broke, for good. It not only goes
in the red, but whatever paper is available in the form of IOUs is
gone. I mean, it's just -- it's a fact.
MS. ENGLER: And there's no getting around it. I mean, we all know
it. We all heard --
THE PRESIDENT: No, not everybody knows it yet. They're going to
MS. ENGLER: Oops.
THE PRESIDENT: You know it. (Applause.) It's all right.
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: There you go. (Laughter.) And not only that --
that's good, very good -- (applause.) And not only do you watch your
money grow, but you watch people making decisions about the economy.
In other words, there's a certain sense of when you own something, you
actually own a stake and the future matters a lot.
You know, I love the fact that more people are owning their home in
America than ever before. (Applause.) I love the fact that people are
owning their own business in America, people from all walks of life.
(Applause.) And I think it makes sense to encourage ownership when it
comes to retirement systems.
MR. PAGAN: Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, he's a firefighter, and I'm proud of
you. (Applause.) Good job. All right, where are you a firefighter?
MR. PAGAN: I'm a fireman in the City of Patterson. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Good, yes. Thank you. Staying in good shape?
MR. PAGAN: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: One thing about those firefighters, they stay in
good shape. You also --
MR. PAGAN: I own a real estate company in the city of Patterson.
Again, my name is Carlos Pagan; I'm 33 years old. I'm raising two
kids. I have a daughter named Vanessa -- she's 15.
THE PRESIDENT: No, you're not 15. (Laughter.)
MR. PAGAN: He's 13.
THE PRESIDENT: So like, teenagers? Yes -- I've been there.
(Laughter and applause.)
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: Let me tell you an interesting statistic. You
know, Carlos -- I was getting ready to tell you, the other day I was at
one of these forums, and the person said, people like me -- see, she
had read a survey that said people her age thought they were likely to
see a UFO before they'd get a Social Security check when they retire.
(Laughter.) Kind of an interesting observation, isn't it? (Laughter.)
So here's Carlos, a firefighter, saying, just give me a chance to
manage some of my own money.
Things have changed in America since I was Carlos's age. I don't
remember 401(k)s when I was 30 years old. Maybe they were there, I
just wasn't observant of it. I don't think 401(k)s came into being. I
don't think there was this notion of defined contribution plans. So
here we are, talking to a brave firefighter talking about, give me a
chance to contribute to my own plan. It's kind of interesting, isn't
it? It's an interesting shift of attitude. There's a lot of folks
that maybe not realize this, there's a whole kind of investor culture
that is growing up throughout the whole younger generation. People are
used to it, used to the concept of opening up a quarterly statement and
saying, look at my asset base, look how it is growing.
That's an important thing that people need to hear, particularly
people in the United States Congress, that we're not talking about a
foreign idea of allowing people to take some of their own money, in
order so that that money can grow at a better rate than that which is
in the government, so that when they come to retire, it can be closer
to the benefits promised by the federal government. That's what we're
I think it's interesting, don't you, that Carlos is -- he's got an
entrepreneurial spirit to begin with. When did you start your own
MR. PAGAN: Seven years ago, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Making a living?
MR. PAGAN: Yes, doing all right.
THE PRESIDENT: That's good, yes. It's what we like to hear.
(Laughter.) Employing people?
MR. PAGAN: Yes, and this summer, I'm going to employ my daughter
for the first time and she'll be able to contribute to Social
THE PRESIDENT: That's good. Good job. (Applause.)
Okay. Bryan Dougherty. Welcome.
MR. DOUGHERTY: Thank you, sir. It's a pleasure to be here, Mr.
THE PRESIDENT: Glad you're here. Age?
MR. DOUGHERTY: Twenty-three.
THE PRESIDENT: See, he's nervous, and should be. Not about
sitting up here -- (laughter) --
MR. DOUGHERTY: I'm 23 years old. I live in Hoboken, New Jersey,
now. I'm a sales manager at the Hilton Short Hills around the corner.
THE PRESIDENT: Business all right?
MR. DOUGHERTY: Business is good.
THE PRESIDENT: You deserve a promotion, then, what the heck.
MR. DOUGHERTY: Well, thank you. Maybe if we can get you to stay
in the presidential suite, which is calling your name. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Very good.
MR. DOUGHERTY: Your next overnight trip, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: That's called turning the tide on the old boy, you
know, that's good. (Laughter.)
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: It's interesting, isn't it? Listen to this
23-year-old guy. He's saying, I've analyzed it, I started to pay
attention to it, and when I looked at the math, I realized I'm going to
be on the short end of the stick. In other words, you can put all the
money in you want, but because of the demographics and the math,
there's not going to be anything left. You're just paying for me, and
I -- and I appreciate it. (Laughter.) We're happy you are. The
question is, will you be paying for anything for yourself. And the
answer is, not unless we reform this system. That's what the message
is here today.
Keep going, you're on a roll. Keep going. (Applause.)
MR. DOUGHERTY: The other thing, Mr. President, we had an
opportunity to speak backstage and I appreciate your listening. I'm
here to ask that Congress listens. You don't see many 23-year-olds on
the MSNBC circuit or anything like that at nighttime, but we have
something to say, and we're concerned about the issue. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. You sure do have something to say. See,
here's the thing about this issue. I actually ran on it. I said, vote
for me, and I'm going to do something about Social Security and I'm
going to try to put out some innovative ideas to fix it. And in the
past, people would say, don't campaign on Social Security, you'll get
beat. It used to be politically that if you just said something about
it, they would run ads saying, well, Bush is going to take away your
check. And they actually did that in 2000, I was told. And,
fortunately, when I ran the next time, I was able to say, well, we
didn't take away your check.
But I'm still talking about it, because I think it's an issue we
need to talk about. I think it's an important issue. And the dynamics
have changed. Young people are beginning to say, what about my check;
what's going to be around for me?
This is a generational issue. People born from 1950 and before
have nothing to worry about, the promise is going to be made. The
fundamental question is, will the Congress have the will and the desire
to work with the administration so that we can say to people like Brian
and Carlos and everybody else up here that are born after 1950, we hear
your voice, too; we know you've got a concern and we want to make sure
this very important system -- the retirement system -- is modernized
and reformed so you'll have the safety net when you retire, as well.
Listen, I want to thank you all for giving us a chance to discuss
this. I want to thank our panelists. God bless. Thanks for coming.
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