ST. LOUIS — More than 500 trade unionists, community activists and students protested outside a $2,000-a-plate fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Jim Talent here June 2. President Bush was the fundraiser’s guest of honor.

The Republicans’ attacks on Social Security and plans for privatization were the focus of the protest. Darlene Kellum, a member of the National Education Association, said, “Private corporations steal millions and millions from workers every day. Remember Enron? What about the United Airlines employees? Why would we trust them with our money or with our future?”

According to a recent report published by the Institute for America’s Future, President Bush’s plan includes “mandatory cuts to guaranteed Social Security checks for nearly all workers who earn over $20,000 per year, regardless of whether or not a worker chooses a private account.”

For example, a Missouri worker earning around $33,000, the state’s yearly average, would see a cut of $187,272 in benefits.

“We all know privatization does not work. It is our money they want to take,” Postal Workers Union President Roosevelt Stewart told the World. “They want to make more profits. But workers’ benefits should not be dependent on Wall Street.”

According to the IAF report, the president’s plan would cut benefits regardless of market performance. Even in a “best market performance scenario,” where the average worker received 6.8 percent return on a private account, benefits would still be cut. In the “best case” scenario, “the typical Missourian would still retire with “$55,570 less than promised by current law.”

The report describes the Social Security benefit cuts that would befall the typical worker. It does not detail the impact President Bush’s plan would have on widows, surviving children or the disabled, for example — groups that would probably be hit even harder.

“If Bush gets his way,” Alderwoman Shirley Johnson told the World, “we won’t have anything left. The low-income and the poor, and especially the youth, will be hung out to dry.”

“They need to work on something that is broken,” said Barbara Black, Service Employees International Union Local 2000 president. “They need to work on our health care system. It’s broken. But keep your hands off our Social Security!”