DALLAS — Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) spoke at four town hall meetings on Social Security here during the weekend of March 4-6. Three were held in union halls.

At each event, a speaker from the AARP, the nation’s largest organization for people 50 and older, reinforced the congresswoman’s main message: “No to Bush’s privatization plans!”

Johnson addressed a number of top union leaders, AFL-CIO delegates and union retirees at the Communications Workers hall on Friday, a large number of women activists at the Postal Workers hall on Saturday, and the membership of the largest Teamster local in the country, Local 745, on Sunday. That evening she spoke to a group of political activists at the downtown library.

There is no immediate crisis in Social Security, Johnson and other speakers said, but Bush’s privatization plan would precipitate one. The congresswoman presented no particular plan for long-term improvements to Social Security, but said she was open to all of them except privatization.

The AARP opposes President Bush’s plan for individual private accounts. The group also advocates raising the taxable “cap” from its current $90,000 per year to approximately $140,000, and it would require new government employees to join the Social Security system rather than the myriad of other retirement plans that have been created for government employees. At the same time, AARP says it would allow part of the Social Security Trust Fund to be put into “higher-yielding investments.”

Johnson repeatedly blasted Bush’s schemes. She said that she did not expect him to eliminate privatization as his central aim, even though he may accept other adjustments.

She pointed out that the right-wingers in the Republican Party use drastic measures to force Congress to go along with them. She specifically talked about the administration’s prescription drug plan, which was forced through Congress in the dead of night under heavy pressure by GOP operatives.

Johnson said many of her Democratic colleagues were planning 300 similar town hall meetings around the country. She said it is necessary to carry the anti-privatization message directly to the people because progressive congresspersons are “blacked out” by the media in Washington.

Johnson clarified her opinion of the Bush regime several times: “This is the most anti-consumer, pro-corporate administration I have ever seen,” she said.

flittle7@yahoo.com

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