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Radio addresses focus on holiday, Social Security

Radio addresses focus on holiday, Social Security

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush used his weekly radio address Saturday to deliver a holiday message of hope, while Democrats used their air time to criticize the budget as a "massive raid" on the Social Security fund.

Bush said the Easter and Passover holidays were time of "joy and renewal" for Jews and Christians that come at a time when people of all faiths were still recovering from the September 11 attacks.

"These holy days represent some of the most profound hopes of humanity, which are shared in many traditions," Bush said.

Bush did not reserve his message only for those who practice a particular religion. "American practice different faiths in churches, synagogues, mosques and temples," he said. "And many good people practice no faith at all."

He said that "a terrible evil" was committed against the United States and that the war against terrorism will continue to be challenging and dangerous.

Bush said that for those who observe Passover and Easter, "faith brings confidence that failure is never final and suffering is temporary."

Democrats decry budget

In their message, Democrats said the Republican-passed budget is "a massive raid" on the Social Security trust fund.

Rep. Robert T. Matsui, D-California, the ranking member of the Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee, said the budget passed this month will take $1.8 trillion from the trust fund over the next 10 years.

He said that the budget funnels payroll taxes paid by teachers, police officers and firefighters "directly into tax breaks for individuals and corporations who need them least."

"When you look at your paycheck and see your FICA deduction taken out, you can rest assured that some CEO somewhere is paying less in taxes," Matsui said.

He said Senate Democrats blocked a proposal to grant billions of dollars in tax refunds to a handful of corporations -- including $254 million for Enron Corp. -- that would have been paid by the Social Security trust fund.

Matsui also criticized Republican proposals to privatize Social Security, saying it would drain $1 trillion from the program over 10 years.

"That means there will have to be significant cuts in benefits across the board -- cuts in retirement, disability and survivors' benefits alike," Matsui said. Social Security was a "financial bedrock that cannot be shaken by the ups and downs of the stock market or by corporate scandal," he said.

Matsui said he recently spoke to two Enron employees who lost their retirement savings.

"They told me how thankful they were that they could at least still count on Social Security," he said. "It's stories like these that remind us how important it is to protect this program."




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