FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Office of The White House Press Secretary
March 11, 2005
same news release on White House web site
See Centenary Photo
Gallery of Bush Visit
Discusses Strengthening Social Security in Louisiana
Centenary College of Louisiana
1:45 P.M. CST
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks for coming. Please be seated. Gosh, it's good to
be in a part of the world that I'm real familiar with. (Laughter.) Pretty
close to home. (Applause.) Sounds like to me some Texans snuck across
the border. (Applause.) I'm delighted to be here at Centenary College,
Bill Anderson, the chairman, and Ken Schwab, the president. I want to
thank the students. (Applause.) I thank the students who are here to listen.
This is going to be an educational experience for you. I've got a lot
of educating to do to convince people not only do we have a problem, but
we need to come together and come up with a solution to Social Security.
But before I get there, I do want to recognize some people, and I've
got a few comments about international politics, the world in which we
live. First, I'm sorry Laura isn't with me. Yes, I know it; she's great,
isn't she? (Applause.) She's doing just fine. She's going to be happy
to know I saw our mutual friend, Ernie "the Big Cat" Ladd who
is here today. Cat, I'll tell her I saw you. You're looking good. She's
looking good, too, by the way. (Laughter.) She is a great First Lady and
a great mom and I love her dearly. (Applause.)
I'm real proud of the job Congressman Jim McCrery is doing. He's one
of the smartest, most capable members of the House of Representatives.
(Applause.) He said, you make sure you get down to the district. And I
said, well, if I put you on Air Force One, will you come with me? He said,
how fast can I get on the plane? (Laughter.)
Senator David Vitter is with us. David, proud you're here. (Applause.)
There are two other members of the United States Congress with us today.
Congressman Rodney Alexander. Proud you're here, Rodney. (Applause.) Rodney
is from this part of the world and reflects the values of north Louisiana
in the United States Congress. And Bobby Jindal. Bobby, congratulations.
(Applause.) Thank you guys for coming. Proud you're here. Looking forward
to working with you on solving big problems for our nation.
I want to thank Mayor Keith Hightower, from the city of Shreveport, for
being here. Mr. Mayor, I'm honored you're here. I appreciate you coming.
(Applause.) Mayor George DeMent of Bossier City. (Applause.) Thank you,
George. Proud you two guys are here. Just fill the potholes. (Laughter.)
You didn't ask for any advice. (Laughter.) I want to thank all the other
state and local officials who have joined us.
Today, I met a fine young lady named Lindsey Allen at the airport. A
couple of her relatives showed up. (Laughter.) Probably wondering why
I would mention her. I'll tell you why I mention her. She is a volunteer
for Hospice of Shreveport Bossier. (Applause.) She is a -- she takes time
out of her life to provide comfort for people who are sick. And the reason
I mention this is I want particularly the college kids here to understand
that if you want to serve your nation, a great way to do so is to take
time out of your busy life and love somebody who hurts. If you want to
serve your nation, mentor a child. If you want to serve your nation, feed
the hungry, provide shelter to the homeless, become a soldier in the army
of compassion, and you can help change America. (Applause.)
And I want to thank Lindsey Allen -- where are you, Lindsey? There she
is. Thanks for coming, Lindsey, and thanks for being a volunteer. (Applause.)
The world is changing, and the world is becoming more peaceful because
more societies are listening to the people that live within their borders
and are becoming democracies. Think about what's happened in a quick period
of time: we defended ourselves, we upheld doctrine, we liberated millions
from the clutches of the Taliban, and last fall, millions went to the
polls to vote for a President. (Applause.) And that's important. It's
important because free societies are peaceful societies. Palestinians
voted. And I believe -- I believe someday, I believe it's within reach,
that there will be a Palestinian democracy living side by side with Israel
in peace. (Applause.)
And then the people in Iraq defied the murder of terrorists and said,
you will not intimidate us because we want to be free, and by the millions,
they went to the polls to vote for their leaders. (Applause.) And I'm
not surprised. I'm not surprised. I was pleased, but not surprised because
I understand that freedom is not America's gift to the world. Freedom
is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world. (Applause.)
And no tyrant and no dictator can extinguish the desire for people to
live in freedom.
So during the next four years of my administration I will use our considerable
influence and work with our friends and allies to help others around the
world realize their chance to be free -- because I understand freedom
and democracy will make this world a peaceful place for generations to
I also want to say something about my trip to Europe. I had a great trip
to Europe. I talked to our friends and allies there. I became -- got a
common agreement with the French, for example, to make it abundantly clear
to Syria that the Syrian troops and Syrian intelligence officers must
leave Lebanon so Lebanon's democracy can grow and flourish; as well, we
worked together on the issue of Iran, to make sure that we speak with
one voice to the Iranian regime, that they should abandon any ambitions
for nuclear weapons for the sake of peace in the world. I am pleased that
we are speaking with one voice with our European friends. I look forward
to working with our European friends to make it abundantly clear to the
Iranian regime that the free world will not tolerate them having a nuclear
A couple other points I want to make before we get to the issue at hand.
I do want to talk right quick about the economy and one way to make sure
this economy continues to grow. Last week we got news that we added 262,000
new jobs last month. (Applause.) That means more Americans are working
today than ever before in our nation's history, and that's positive news.
Our economic plans are working, but there's more to do. And I gave a
speech in Ohio earlier this week, and I made it clear to Congress: stop
debating about energy and get me an energy plan that encourages conservation,
environmentally sensitive exploration for natural gas and hydrocarbons
here in the United States. Let's encourage renewable sources of energy.
Let's use taxpayers' money to explore ways to have clean coal technology.
What I'm saying to you is, is that we need to get moving on becoming less
dependent on foreign sources of oil. (Applause.)
And I want to thank McCrery and Vitter and Bobby and Rodney for their
work on this important issue. It's my belief if we keep talking about
the issue of energy independence, we'll get us a bill. And we'll get us
a bill that makes sense for all Americans.
Now I want to talk about Social Security. It's a big issue. It's a big
issue because it affects everybody's life. First, let me start off by
telling you FDR did a good thing. Franklin Roosevelt did a good thing
when he set up the Social Security system. You know why I say that? I
say that because it's helped a lot of retirees. It has worked. It has
worked, and, therefore, one of the things that I want to tell the people
here in this audience and all across Louisiana and in east Texas, and
whoever else is listening: if you're getting a check, nothing will change;
if you have retired, not one thing is going to change when it comes to
Social Security. The United States government will keep its commitment.
I don't care what the advertisements say. I don't care what the political
pamphlets say. I don't care what the politicians say. Nobody is going
to take away your check. (Applause.)
But the math has changed since Franklin Roosevelt was the President.
When they set up the system, there was a lot of workers paying into the
system for every retiree. As a matter of fact, in 1950, there were 16
workers for each beneficiary. That meant the system could work. It's a
pay-as-you-go system, by the way; people pay in and the money goes out
to pay for the benefits. Some people say, what about the Social Security
trust? As if the government collects your money and holds it in your account
and then when you retire, gives it back to you. That's not how it works.
The government collects your money, and they spend it. (Laughter.) And
they spend it on retirement benefits, but they were spending it -- or
we spent it on other things, too.
Since the 1950s, a couple of things have happened. People are having
fewer babies and the baby boomers are getting ready to retire. I happen
to be one. As a matter of fact, I turn 62 in 2008. That's a good enough
time for me to retire. (Laughter and applause.) Just about right timing.
(Applause.) And there's a lot of me, people like me. There are a lot of
baby boomers; I'm just the beginning of the baby boomer ear. There's a
whole lot of people getting ready to retire, and we are living longer
than the previous generation and the previous generation. So you're beginning
to get -- when I said the math is changing, I hope you're beginning to
get a picture of what I'm talking about: more retirees, living longer,
plus, we've been promised more benefits than the previous generation.
A lot of people getting paid more benefits, living longer years and fewer
people paying into the system.
And that means we've got a problem. Today there is -- three-to-one paying
into the system. In 20 years, there will be two workers for every retiree.
Means when you're working, you're having to pay a lot more for me than
previous generations. And so what ends up happening is in 2018, as you
can see on that chart, the system goes into the red. In other words, more
money going out than coming in. And it goes worse every year. In 2027
it's going to cost $200 billion for the government to fund the promises
to the baby boomers like me. That's $200 billion above the payroll taxes
we're collecting. And every year it gets worse.
So if you're a younger person sitting out there, you ought to start to
say, my goodness, the system doesn't look very good for me. It's fine
for seniors. It's fine for those who are near retirement. It is not in
good shape for the people who are going to have to pay for the baby boomers
who are fixing to retire. And so I've seen the problem. And I think it's
a significant enough problem to put it square on the agenda. My job as
the President is to confront problems and not pass them on to future Presidents
and future Congresses. (Applause.)
And that's why I've come to Shreveport, Louisiana. (Applause.) To explain
it as plainly as I can, in plain Texan, that we have a problem. And the
problem is, how is the younger generation going to pay for all of the
promises that the government can't keep? Major tax increases, significant
benefit cuts, that's what's going to have to happen unless we act now.
People say, well, 2018 is a long way down the road. Well, it's not. It
is right around the corner. It is close by. It means it is time for people
from both political parties to set aside our partisanship and come to
And so in my State of the Union address, I stood up and said, all options
are on the table. I said, if you've got a good idea, bring them forward.
I'm interested in listening to them. I said, if you've got an idea as
to how to permanently fix Social Security -- we don't need a band-aid
approach, we need to fix it once and for all so we can say to the American
people, we have done our duty; bring forward your ideas.
Tim Penny here is on the stage. He is a former Democrat Congressman.
You're going to hear him talk. He has had some good ideas. I'm interested
in any idea, and I put out some of my own as to how to permanently fix
it and how to make sure the system is as good as it can be for youngsters.
And one of them is to allow young workers to put aside some of your own
money in a personal savings account.
And let me tell you why I think that's important. First of all, that
unto itself is not going to fix Social Security. We need to do more than
that. But it is a way to say to younger workers that you're going to be
able to come closer to the benefits that have been promised to you, because
by putting money aside, you will be able -- in a private account, private
markets, investing in the private markets, you'll be able to get a better
rate of return on your own money than the government could get on your
own money. And as that rate of return compounds, as you save, your account
grows bigger and bigger and bigger. If you're a worker making $35,000
over your lifetime, and this plan says you can take 4 percent of your
payroll taxes and set it aside in a personal savings account, that by
the time you retire, having invested in conservative stocks and bonds,
you will have a capital base of $250,000 in your personal account. That's
how interest works. It compounds. It grows.
Now, people say, what does that mean, a personal savings account? Can
I take the money and go right down to the road where I was staying in
this part of the world and put it in the slots? (Laughter.) You can't
do that. In other words, there is a set of investment vehicles, conservatively
designed, to get a better rate of return than what your money's getting
in the Social Security system, but you get to choose a mix of stocks and
We've done this before, by the way. Federal employees get to do this.
Federal employees get to take some of their own money and put it in an
Employee Thrift Savings Plan that grows, that compounds with interest.
It's happening. People know what I'm talking about. This isn't a new concept.
The only thing new is that it will be a part of the Social Security program.
Now, once you retire, you can't take all your money out at once. You hold
that money in an account and you get the interest from your -- from the
corpus of your account, to complement the Social Security check, however
big that is, that the government pays you. So in other words, it's a part
of the Social Security system, retirement system.
And let me tell you some of the benefits of this. First of all, you own
it, it's yours. The government can't take it away from you. (Applause.)
You know what brings joy into my heart? When I hear that more minority
families own a home now than ever before in our nation's history. (Applause.)
I love the fact that more people are owning something. There are more
business owners. Small businesses are flourishing across America. When
people -- when a person owns something, they have a vital stake in the
future of the country. When somebody opens up an account that says, here's
your stocks and bonds and here's how they've been growing over the last
quarter, people will say, well, I think I better pay attention to what
the government is doing to make sure that they put policies in place that
will make the economy grow.
Secondly, you can pass this account on to whomever you choose. It's yours.
Social Security system right now, as you'll hear, isn't fair for people
who pass away prior to age 62. The money just goes away. But under this
plan, you'll have an asset base, something you own, something you can
leave to whomever you choose.
Thirdly, I like the idea of families being able to pass wealth from one
generation to the next. (Applause.) And I think it ought to be in families
all across the -- all kinds of families ought to be able to do this. You
know, there's this kind of sense about, well, this may not work because
some people aren't capable of investing -- as if the investor class was
only a certain type of person. That's not what I agree with. I agree --
I think that everybody is plenty capable. I think that everybody ought
to be given the opportunity to save their own money and put it aside as
a part of the Social Security trust.
Finally, it makes sense to encourage savings in America. The more savings
we have, the more capital there is for growth in the economy. One of the
things we're going to have to be careful about is not saving enough money.
The capitalist system works by encouraging savings, so there is capital
to invest, so that small businesses can flourish, so that the entrepreneurial
spirit stays strong. And so this is an idea that I think Congress needs
to consider and I put it on the table. And I expect people to come to
that table to discuss not only my idea, but their ideas.
Now, I'm having a good time traveling around our country. I like to get
out of Washington. Frequently. (Laughter and applause.) I've been to this
-- last couple of days I've been to Tennessee and Alabama and Kentucky,
and now Louisiana. I'm heading home for dinner. (Laughter.) Next week
I'm going down to Florida -- check on the brother. (Laughter.) After that
I'm going to go out of Crawford, I'm going to head out west to Arizona
and New Mexico and Colorado. The reason I'm telling you this is I want
everybody involved in the process to know that I believe the American
people are going to determine the fate of this issue, and I intend to
take my message out week after week after week so the people can hear
Tim Penny is with us. The great state of Minnesota. Served in the United
States Congress and is, you're about to hear, an articulate advocate of
making sure the Social Security system is reformed and modernized.
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I appreciate that. I think -- as I told you, the
guy is articulate. And he's sensible; it's a common-sense approach. Thanks
for coming, Tim.
All right. Gwen Comer. Welcome.
MS. COMER: Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Good to see you.
MS. COMER: Thank you. Good to see you.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, they tell me -- you're not -- you didn't sneak across
the border, did you?
MS. COMER: Yes, I sneaked across. No one was looking. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: You're from close to Jefferson, Texas.
MS. COMER: Yes. Gray is about 20 miles east of Jefferson.
THE PRESIDENT: One of the great parts of my home state is East Texas,
by the way.
MS. COMER: Yes. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Tell us about yourself.
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: See, it's interesting. Listen real carefully to what she
said. She said her husband worked for 40 years, passed away, and his money
just -- their savings, the money he worked hard to earn on their behalf
is gone. Now, she's going to get Social Security as a result of her job.
But that money just isn't around. And had he had the chance to put money
aside in a personal account, that personal account would have been passed
on to her as part of their family's asset base.
MS. COMER: That's right.
THE PRESIDENT: Is there any doubt in your mind that you're not going
to get your check?
MS. COMER: No, indeed.
THE PRESIDENT: That's important for people to hear. I understand a lot
of people around the country, a lot of people in Louisiana, a lot of people
in Texas rely on that Social Security check.
MS. COMER: That's right.
THE PRESIDENT: And it frightens people to hear political people like
me talking about the issue, because they're thinking, well, really what
he's saying is he's giving me a warning the government is not going to
give me my check. I campaigned on this issue in 2000 and 2004. In 2000,
they said if George W. gets elected, you're not going to get your check.
That's what some of the ads were. I did get elected and people got their
check. I want you to remind your neighbors of that. (Applause.)
You got any grandkids?
MS. COMER: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: How many grandkids?
MS. COMER: My husband and I were blessed with four children. We have
12 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. So we're blessed. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Sure are. See, this is a generational issue. I'm here
to put more and more people on -- who've retired, saying, now that you've
comforted me, you better take care of my grandchildren.
MS. COMER: That's right.
THE PRESIDENT: That's an important issue. And I want the seniors here
to understand that this issue is really about your grandchildren, and
we want your advice on how best to make sure that the system works for
your grandchildren. There's a lot of grandparents who, when they hear
the math, realize that the numbers are going to be pretty significant
when it comes time to either raise the taxes or doing whatever needed
to make the promises, and that now is the time for government to take
care of the next generation. Social Security has worked for this generation.
It really has. And the fundamental question is, can we make it work for
the next generation coming up. That's the task at hand, that's the debate,
that's the issue.
Good job. You ready? Ms. Helen Lyons, sitting right here next to the
President of the United States. (Applause.)
MS. LYONS: Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Welcome.
MS. LYONS: Thank you. This is a great honor. These moments will never
be forgotten, nor will time erase.
My name is Helen Lyons. I am 78 years old, a widow. We were blessed,
my husband and I, with three sons. They were educated in Oakland, California,
and all three of them are ministers. This is my oldest son, Bishop Brandon.
THE PRESIDENT: Are you still listening to your mother?
BISHOP BRANDON: Yes, indeed; I better.
THE PRESIDENT: Me, too. (Laughter.)
MS. LYONS: I was born in Texas. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: There you go.
* * * * *
MS. LYONS: I am living with my son and wife, and their two children.
And I have two grandchildren here today.
THE PRESIDENT: That's great. You know, let me stop you right there. A
responsible society is one in which people take, first and foremost, responsibility
for their family, and I want to thank you for taking responsibility for
your mom after she took responsibility for you all these years. (Applause.)
MS. LYONS: Thank you. Thank you. Mr. President, you've already answered
my Social Security question that I had for you.
THE PRESIDENT: Bring it up again. I can't answer it enough. (Laughter.)
MS. LYONS: All right. Will our benefits, as senior citizens, be affected?
THE PRESIDENT: She asked a question a lot of people are asking, and I
know that. I know a lot of people are asking whether or not they're going
to get their check. And we're sitting behind stage, and Helen Lyons looks
at me and she's kind of wondering, what is this guy all about? I've agreed
to get on the stage with him, but have they got a plan to make sure that
I don't get what I need to live on? That's -- a lot of folks are asking
Now, I'm going to say it here again and I'm going to say it all around
the country, because this is the, as Tim said, the truth: you're going
to get your check; the government will honor this commitment. What I can't
tell you we're going to be able to honor is our commitment to your son
and your grandchildren. I can tell you we'll honor our commitment to you.
But I cannot make that promise until Congress comes together with the
administration to make the promise to the children and grandchildren of
this good woman. But thank you for asking me that question again.
MS. LYONS: Thank you, Mr. President. I am deeply concerned about my children,
grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I don't blame you. Particularly after you listen
to the facts. (Applause.)
Why don't you introduce your son? Was he a good boy growing up?
MS. LYONS: Mr. President, he was. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: That's good.
MS. LYONS: This is my son, Bishop Larry Brandon. He's pastor of the Praise
Temple Full Gospel Baptist Church of Shreveport, Louisiana.
THE PRESIDENT: That's good. (Applause.) Very well done. Bishop.
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, let's stop there for a minute, because this is an
important part of helping introduce people to financial literacy. I mean,
there's programs all over the country. People say, well, there's -- certain
people can't invest; they just don't know about it, or it's risky if we
let certain people invest. But the way to tackle the issue is not to deny
people the great aspect of ownership, but to reach out to faith organizations,
community-based organizations, and help people become financially literate.
We shouldn't run away from ownership. We ought to provide the means to
encourage ownership, and I want to thank you for that. (Applause.)
BISHOP BRANDON: Thank you. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Let's face it. Let's face it square on. There are some
neighborhoods in which financial literacy has not been passed on from
one generation to the next. And we've got to break that cycle. We've got
to do a better job. Mr. Pastor, thank you for taking that on, and I'm
glad to know the government is working with the faith-based community
to reach out into all neighborhoods in Shreveport, Louisiana, and elsewhere
to help people become more financially literate. Keep going. (Laughter.)
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: Right, right. Let me talk about a couple of things. We're
working on the retirement aspect of Social Security, but one way to make
sure that the survivor benefits are whole and intact is to give a person
the opportunity to develop an asset base that you can pass on to whomever
you want. That is a tangible asset. It's not a promise, it is a tangible
asset to pass on to whomever you want. That's one of the major differences
between the Social Security system that I envision and the current system.
And so there will be a survivor benefit aspect to Social Security, but
it will be enhanced by this notion of asset accumulation.
And, secondly, his question is a good question, and that is, is it possible
to design a system that makes it more fair for people who are impoverished?
Can we work with Congress to make this system as progressive as possible.
And the answer is, absolutely we want to work with Congress to do that.
We want the retirement system to be a solid safety net for all our citizens.
I've talked to Jim McCrery about this. He's got a compassionate heart.
He understands the ability to make the system work for all. And so I want
to thank you for bringing that up, Pastor. My attitude about this is that
if people have got a good idea as to how to make the system work toward
-- to help make sure people don't end up in poverty at retirement, please
bring their ideas forward. All ideas should be on the table to make this
system permanently solved -- not a 35-year fix or a 75-year fix, which
never turns out to be a 75-year fix, by the way.
Let me remind you, when you hear the rhetoric "75-year fix,"
in 1983 -- and Tim was in Congress then -- they worked on solving the
problem of Social Security. They said, well, we'll put together a 75-year
solution. That's 1983. Well, we're sitting here in 2005. It didn't make
it very long. That's because the demographics are changing dramatically,
and we've got to address the math to permanently fix it. So I'm not interested
in band-aids, 75-year fixes. I want there to be a permanent solution to
Social Security. (Applause.)
Sarah Joy Hays, representing the youth of America, as you can see, at
least on this stage. (Laughter and applause.)
MS. HAYS: That's a lot of pressure. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: You can handle it.
MS. HAYS: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: You attend?
MS. HAYS: Louisiana State University. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: LSU. I was honored to give the graduation speech there
last year. Tell them "thank you."
MS. HAYS: Will do.
THE PRESIDENT: Why are you sitting here?
MS. HAYS: Well, I'm a senior in communication studies. I graduate next
December. And I currently work part-time at the Gap. And every couple
weeks -- (laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Probably going to give me some advice on my clothes.
MS. HAYS: We'll save that for later. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Okay.
Q Every couple of weeks, about $40 is deducted from my paycheck, and
that's going into Social Security. But I'm afraid that with the system
as it stands right now, that will not provide a safety net for me when
I'm ready to retire.
THE PRESIDENT: We're happy you're putting in the $40 right now, aren't
MS. HAYS: You're welcome. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: The question is, will there be something for you?
MS. HAYS: Exactly. And with your new reforms, I think that this is a
positive thing for my generation especially, and I think it will also
give us incentive to study economy and to know what's going on around
us, as well as educate us in how to invest our own money wisely.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it's amazing, you know, there is -- a lot of people
are learning what it means to invest their own money, 401(k)s. I presume
people out here have got a 401(k). That's a Defined Contribution Plan.
That is your money, you're watching it grow, you're investing it, and
it becomes your -- part of your retirement package.
The younger -- I don't remember, when we were coming up, talking about
401(k)s. I certainly don't remember worrying about whether or not Social
Security would be solvent, either. It was taken for granted. And now,
all of the sudden, we showed up on the ledgers saying, give us our checks,
starting in four years. And so what Sarah is saying is, she's not so sure
her generation can carry the load, particularly since there's going to
be two workers for every me, every retiree.
You know, they asked a 21-year-old -- one time a 21-year-old person told
me, she said -- and I think this came out in a survey, that you're more
likely to see a UFO than get the Social Security check. (Laughter.) Is
that the way you're --
MS. HAYS: I think that's probably a safe consensus on how we feel.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it's an interesting concept, when you think about
it. Once we assure the seniors they're going to get their checks, and
grandparents start asking elected officials, and Sarah, Sarah Joy starts
asking elected officials, what are you going to do about us? See, that's
where the debate is going to be headed. Because you're going to get your
check if you've retired. It's the people coming up that are starting to
ask the question. And one of the reasons I asked Sarah Joy to join us,
because she's representative of a lot of people. They said, oh, don't
worry, 21-year-olders don't pay attention to this. I don't think it's
MS. HAYS: Neither do I.
THE PRESIDENT: That's good. (Applause.) You got any other wisdom?
MS. HAYS: Well, I've been imparted some wisdom by some student government
presidents. I've been working on executive staff at LSU for the past couple
of years, so I've been blessed to be a part of that system.
THE PRESIDENT: So people are talking about this.
MS. HAYS: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: That's important. And they're going to keep talking about
it, because I'm going to keep talking about it. I want people to understand,
people who are 21 years old, that you're facing a steep hill to climb
if the government doesn't act. And there's a lot of talk in Washington
about, you know, Bush brought this up, why did he bring it up. And I told
you why I brought it up. But I also believe this. I believe when the people
figure out we have a problem, and seniors hear that nothing's going to
change, woe to the politician who doesn't come to the table. Woe to the
person who tries to block this for partisan reasons. (Applause.) The people
of this country want problem solvers, not problem creators. They are unhappy
with the status quo. It's time to come together and save the Social Security
system for generations to come. (Applause.)
I'm honored you gave me a chance to come to Shreveport, Louisiana. May
God bless you, and may God continue to bless our country. (Applause.)
END 2:30 P.M. CST
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