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Social Security Expected To Be Hot Topic During Bush's Raleigh Visit

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Last-minute preparations are under way for President George W. Bush's town hall meeting in Raleigh Thursday to push his social security plan.


11 a.m. Thursday on WRAL.com and the WRAL NewsChannel (Ch. 256/5.2). Replays at 3 and 8 p.m. Thursday.

Anne Green works in sales, but the 29-year-old is not yet sold on a plan to partly privatize social security. Green has been working since she was 14. She was always told to save because she could not rely on Social Security.

"I just know something needs to be done. We can't stay on the current system right now because the money is going to be used up, and we've seen this coming for a long time," Green said. "I remember my father talking about it 10 years ago."

Currently 1.4 million North Carolinians receive Social Security benefits. The Bush proposal would allow younger workers to invest some of their Social Security taxes in private accounts.

The White House contacted former Raleigh Mayor and Republican strategist Tom Fetzer to help arrange the town hall meeting in Raleigh.

"In choosing Raleigh, they were looking for a city that would give them a true barometer of the public's feelings about the proposed Social Security reforms," he said. "I think he'll emphasize the proposals he's recommending are voluntary."

Local advocates claim there is no social security crisis. They said what social security needs is more funding, not IOUs. Advocates are calling on Bush to engage in real dialogue.

"We believe workers shouldn't have to trade decent, guaranteed benefits for a roll of the dice on the stock market," said Rob Schofield, of the N.C. Justice Center.

Bush hopes to swing people like Green to his side.

"I'm going to be there for clarification tomorrow," Green said.

The state Democratic Party is criticizing the way tickets were distributed. They were mainly available through the Republican Party, the offices of Senators Dole and Burr and Republican supporters.

A representative from the state Democratic Party said the proposal affects all Americans and more Democrats should have had access to tickets.

Because of Bush's visit, the Federal Aviation Administration will place flight restrictions on private planes around RDU International. On the ground, drivers can expect rolling roadblocks on Interstate 40 for the president's motorcade and increased traffic in downtown Raleigh because of people attending the speech.


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