President George Bush said once again that the Social Security system was broken and encouraged citizens to get on politicians to get the system fixed. At the same time, the president warned the politicians young people would soon be demanding answers to the problems in a flawed system.
President Bush told listeners, "It's a problem we've got to address."
The president drove home his ideas on Social Security during a carefully orchestrated town hall meeting at AUM Thursday. More than 4,000 people filled every seat in the AUM gym, from politicians to party leaders, most of the crowd was invited by local, state and national politicians.
The president told the supportive crowd, the Social Security system "needs to be modernized. And if we don't, the money going out will be greater than the money coming in starting in 2018. Our government can't afford that."
The president said,"The baby boomers are about ready to retire...and there's a lot of us...There will be more people getting benefits and fewer people paying in....In 2029(the system) will be $200 billion short."
He warned politicians answers were going to be needed soon.
"When I convince 'em(people), then the American people, particularly younger folks, are soon to start saying to those of us who have been elected, 'You say we got a problem. We believe you. The seniors don't have anything to worry about. What are you going to do for us?'
Earlier the president had warned Congress,"I'm saying to the members of the United States Congress, let's fix this system permanently, no band-aids. Let's do our duty. And I believe that when this debate gets moving hard and people get educated about the realities of Social Security, woe be to the politician who doesn't come to the table and try to come up with a solution. There's too much politics in Washington, D.C. People need to negotiate in good faith. There's too much, well, I can't do it for the sake of my political party. People in both political parties need to come together and fix this for the sake of America, first and foremost. "
President Bush said opponents of his Social Security plan were trying to "frighten people." Using lines he's used many times before, he went on to say "we can not pass the problem on to future generations."
At the beginning of his presentation, the president joked about his entourage, "My entourage is a lot bigger than the last time I came here."
President Bush was referring to the time in the early 70s he spent in Montgomery working on the senate campaign of Winton Blount.
Mr. Bush referred to the Elite Cafe and to "my old friend Emory Folmer."
He thanked Alabama First Lady Patsy Riley for coming and "bringing her husband, the governor."
"I knew Riley as a congressman and told him 'if you get elected, your going to love it.'"
The president told Alabama Attorney General Troy King, "You don't look old enough to be the attorney general."
He then went on to challenge Congress on a variety of issues saying Congress needed to "get a good energy bill to my desk." The president also said Congress needs to get me a "medical liability bill."
The president went on to introduce professor Jeff Brown to talk more about Social Security and then to talk to a panel of selected people. The panel included 79-year-old George Wood and his grandson George Wood Moody. Wood is a financial adviser. Also on stage was Sarah Garrison Webster a former employee of the Department of Justice and Don Farnsworth and his granddaughter, Beth.
Farnsworth said, "I'm afraid about my kids not having what I have." Farnsworth's grandaughter Beth said she was excited, "What excites me about your plan is getting ownership in my future, having the freedom to choose."
The president arrived at Maxwell AFB early Thursday afternoon. He then proceeded to the Embassy Suites for some rest and exercise prior to heading to AUM.
Woody Woodcock, a longtime volunteer with the Laubauch Literacy Council, was the volunteer on hand to greet the president. Mr. Woodcock has taught many adults to read devoting 7,000 volunteer hours to his favorite cause.
Governor Bob Riley and other local dignitaries were also in attendance for the president's arrival.