The Moline, Illinois-based tractor maker, hit hard by a slumping farm economy, has shed hundreds of workers as sales and profit have fallen. As conditions worsen, Deere has been raising record amounts of debt, helping to finance loans to buyers of its farm equipment, while also spending billions of dollars on share buybacks.
The demand from pension funds is helping to finance record levels of corporate debt. The low interest rates that have crimped returns on investments also make it dirt cheap for companies to borrow, and many of them are doing just that, often to buy back their own shares.
In fact, buybacks have become the fuel powering the more-than twofold increase in the stock market since the depths of the financial crisis in 2009. Together, U.S. non-financial companies have spent $2.24 trillion on buybacks since 2009, while borrowing an extra $1.9 trillion to help finance those purchases, according to a Reuters review of Federal Reserve data.
St. Louis, Missouri-based agrochemical giant Monsanto Co, for example, is caught in the same commodities downturn as Deere. It said in October that it would slash 2,600 jobs as commodity prices slump. But it has increased debt by $7 billion since 2013, helping to fund $8 billion in share buybacks in the same time frame.
San Diego-based chip maker Qualcomm Inc said in July that it would cut 4,500 full-time staff, or 15 percent of its workforce, as foreign competition pinches sales. The company raised $11 billion in debt this year, helping to finance $11.25 billion in buybacks for the year.
And Atlanta-based beverage maker Coca-Cola Co said in January that it would cut at least 1,600 white-collar jobs as it faced sluggish soda sales. It has added $9 billion in debt since the end of 2013 and bought back $6.13 billion of its shares in that time.
Her cousin is having a tough time making ends meet. Happel will collect unemployment insurance as long as he is enrolled in classes, but the $400 a week he receives is only a fraction of what he earned at Deere. The family has cut out extras: no movies, no dinners out. He dipped into his 401(k) retirement savings account to pay off credit cards, but notes ruefully that those card balances are now drifting back up as he scrambles to cover expenses.
As a regional medical center serving communities throughout central Iowa, we want everyone who comes through our doors to feel like they belong. By being open and accommodating to a diversity of opinions and backgrounds, Mary Greeley will always be a welcoming place for patients and their family and friends, and for our employees.
Can a person offer to buy back an easement or have it canceled My husband did not understand what he got into until it was too late. He did not have a lawyer represent him when he bought the house and signed the papers. He bought the house from a lawyer who took care of all the paperwork. The lawyer passed away within a year after he bought it. What is my husband's option K.A., via email
Dear K.A.: I think what you mean is your husband was granting two easements, since properties next to his house were essentially landlocked. Properties have since been acquired that connect those adjacent homes to a public road. You want to know whether you can buy back the easements or have them canceled.
You can buy back the easements if the other parties wish to sell. If you are friendly with your neighbors and they see no reason to maintain the easements, they can be canceled with all parties agreeing. If not, then sit down with an attorney and find out what the laws in your state require about handling this.
President Discusses Strengthening Social Security in IowaKirkwood Community CollegeCedar Rapids, Iowa President's Remarks view In Focus: Social Security12:23 P.M. CSTTHE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you all for coming. Iwant to thank our panelists here. We're about to discuss Social Security. Before we do, I've got some things I want to say. First, I want to thank the good folks here at Kirkwood Community College for letting us come by. (Applause.) It's a fantastic facility you got here.I want to thank Mick and Steve and all the faculty here. I believe thecommunity college system is an important part of making sure that oureconomy continues to grow. And the reason why is one of the bottlenecksfor economic growth is to whether or not we've got a work force that istrained for the jobs of the 21st century. There is no better place totrain people for the jobs of the 21st century than the communitycollege system in America. And so I want to thank you for letting uscome by. (Applause.) I want to thank Chuck Grassley. He and I just came from the Spring House -- yes, it was nice. We had a cup of coffee. I hope you paid, Senator. (Laughter.) Well, I forgot your reputation. (Laughter.) I guess I had to pick up the check, probably. (Laughter.) But I'm proud of the Senator's leadership on the Finance Committee.This will be the committee in the United States Senate that will starta piece of legislation that will modernize Social Security. He'scommitted, as am I, to taking on this big issue. And as I told them atthe Spring House, he's stubborn. I'm going to be stubborn on the issue,and we're going to keep working this until we get something done. Weneed to. Now is the time to address tough problems, before it becomesacute for younger generations of Americans. Thank you for understandingthat, Chuck. Appreciate you coming. (Applause.) I want to thankCongressman Jim Leach, the congressman from this district. I'm lookingforward to -- (applause.) Leach is flying back with me. I'm always abetter person after having sat down to listen to his wisdom.(Laughter.) He's a good, strong guy, and I'm proud that you're here.As well as Jim Nussle, Chairman of the Budget Committee for the Houseof Representatives. (Applause.) Thank you for coming, Jim. I appreciateworking with Chairman Nussle. He's done a very good job on the budget.Now this is the year in which we're going to set priorities again -- wedid it last time, we're going to do it this time -- set clearpriorities. And we're not going to fund programs that don't work. Itseems like to make a lot of sense to me that we're wise about how wespend your money. And there's no better partner in being wise about howwe spend the people's money than Jim Nussle. I'm proud of yourleadership and proud to call you friend. (Applause.) And your parentsare here. Yes, you brought mom. Mom and dad -- good, yes. You stilltelling him what to do (Laughter.) So is my mother. (Laughter andapplause.) The difference is, Nussle is listening. (Laughter.) I wantto say something about Senator Chuck Larson. I appreciate you beinghere, Chuck. I want to thank you for your service to our country.(Applause.) State Auditor Dave Vaudt is with us. Mr. Auditor, thanksfor coming. Mr. Mayor, thank you for coming. I appreciate Paul Patejoining us. I want to thank all the state and local officials forcoming. Particularly, I want to thank you all for taking time out ofyour busy lives to become educated on a very important subject. BeforeI do get there, I do want to say something about Al Smith. Al -- Idon't know if you know Al Smith. He's been involved with the CedarRapids Kernels Baseball Club. He organizes a program for children withspecial needs around baseball. He's also been a mentor. He told me thatover his last, I think he said 40 years -- didn't you say, Al I thinkit's 40 -- you dealt with a million children. I want you to stand up.The reason why I wanted to introduce Al, he is a soldier in the army ofcompassion. He's a soul who understands that you can make a differencein a person's life. And I want to thank you for being here. (Applause.)Appreciate your service. For those of you here interested in servingyour nation, find somebody who hurts and love them, or feed the hungry,or find shelter for those who are looking for housing. Al has done thesame thing through a mentoring program, and I appreciate -- he alsotold me that he was in the Cleveland Indians organization and new RockyColavito. Yes, pretty good. Obviously, we've got some baby boomershere. (Laughter.) A couple of things before we get to Social Security.One, I just talked to Laura this morning and she sends her best. Sheknew I was coming to Cedar Rapids; she said to say hello to everybodythere. (Applause.) She was calling from Afghanistan. She'd just goneover there and she was explaining to me how hopeful it was to have goneto a dormitory for women at a teacher's college. We helped build thatdormitory -- we, the people of America. Think about a society that hasgone from a Taliban-dominated society where, if you're a women andspoke your mind, you were taken to the public square and whipped, to afree society in which women are now being trained to be able to followtheir hearts and teach. That's the difference between tyranny andfreedom. And free societies -- (applause.) And free societies, it'simportant for people to know, free societies will be peacefulsocieties. Free societies in the part of the world that's desperate forfreedom sets a clear example to others that it's possible to be free.And it's -- I've been impressed by the protests in Beirut, Lebanon,where people are saying to Syria, get out of our country so we can be afree country and a democracy. (Applause.) I was impressed by the peopleof Iraq, who, in the face of car bombings and suiciders, said, we'regoing to defy these folks because we want to be free. And they voted inoverwhelming numbers for the first assembly, democratically-electedassembly in years. Freedom is on the march, which means peace is on themarch. And we shouldn't be surprised, because in America, we understandfreedom and we know freedom is not our gift to the world; freedom isthe Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world.(Applause.) And flying in, I saw a lot of people on tractors. It's agood sign. (Laughter.) But it reminded me about what is possible whenit comes to reasonable energy policy. See, one day I hope that thosetractors are planting fuel so we become less reliant on foreign sourcesof energy. (Applause.) We have got a significant problem. We're toodependent on energy sources from overseas, and it's beginning to showup at your gas pump. We need to think differently about energy. And nowis the time for Congress to pass an energy bill which encouragesconservation, encourages research and development so that biodiesel orethanol can work -- more likely work in our automobiles, encourages theresearch and development on hydrogen-powered automobiles. We've gotresearch and development going to FutureGen plants so that we can burncoal in a zero emissions way. In other words, now is the time to get abill passed to not only make us less dependent on foreign sources ofenergy, but to encourage new ways of using energy here in America. Nowis the time for Congress to act and get the bill to my desk.(Applause.) I could go on. Laura warned me, don't -- she said,sometimes you talk too much, and so make sure you keep it relativelyshort here. And I said, okay, I'll try and give it my best shot.Obviously, I haven't done a very good job. Let me talk about SocialSecurity. I'm talking about Social Security because I see a problem,and I believe the job of the President is to confront problems and notpass them on to future Presidents or future Congress. That's what Ithink you elected me for. (Applause.) First, I agree with Chuck when hesaid that Franklin Roosevelt did a good thing in creating the SocialSecurity system. Social Security has worked for a lot of people. It hasprovided a safety net for a lot of citizens. The problem is, there's ahole in the safety net for a generation which is coming up, and let metell you why. Let me -- I'll just put it in personal terms. There's alot of people like me getting ready to retire. We're called babyboomers. I turn 62 in 2008. It's a convenient year for me to retire, bythe way. (Laughter.) We are living longer than the previous generation.We have been promised more benefits than the previous generation. See,people ran for office saying, vote for me, I'm going to give you morebenefits if you put me in. So you've got a lot of baby boomers gettingready to retire who will be living longer years and promised morebenefits. That's part of the math. The other part of the math is thatthere are fewer workers paying for people like me. In 1950, there were16 workers paying into the system for every beneficiary, so you can seethe load wasn't that heavy. Today, it's 3.3 workers for everybeneficiary. Soon, it's going to be 2 workers. If you're a youngerperson going to community college here, you're going to have to pay alot of money out of your pocket to make sure I get the benefits I'mpromised unless we do something different. So the math has changed.The system is an important system, but it's got a hole in the safetynet. I say, the hole in the safety net for the younger workers becauseif you're somebody who's retired or near retired, somebody born priorto 1950, you don't have a thing to worry about. The promise will bekept. I don't care what the politics -- politicians say, I don't carewhat the propaganda says. The truth is, this government will keep itspromise to those people who are receiving their check today and thepromise to those who were prior to 1950. (Applause.) When the math haschanged like it is, the system starts going in the red pretty quickly.In 20 -- 2017, there's going to be more money going out than coming infor Social Security. By the way, we don't have a trust in SocialSecurity. It's called, pay-as-you-go. See, some people think there's aSocial Security trust where we've taken your money, and we've held itfor you, and then when you retire, we give it back to you. No, whathappens is we take your money, we pay money out for the promises forthose people who have retired, and if we've got anything left over, wespend it on things other than Social Security. That's just the way itworks. It's been working that way for a long period of time. And what'sleft are a pile of IOUs, paper. Now, as a pay-as-you-go system, whenyou've got a lot of people like me retiring, getting bigger benefits,living longer, with fewer people paying in, pretty soon the system goesinto the red. And it does in 2017. And every year thereafter, thesituation gets worse, and worse, and worse. To give you an example, in2027, the government is going to have to come up with $200 billion morethan that which is coming in in payroll taxes just to make thepromises. So you can see from that chart there, the situation in 2017gets bad, and it gets worse. Don't take my word for it. Take the wordof the Social Security trustees. They issued a report recently. It saidthe situation is worse than we thought. In 2017, the system starts togo in the red; worse every year after. And the longer we wait, theharder it's going to be for a younger workers to make up thedifference. So this is a generational issue. It's an issue thataffects not those of you who have retired, but it affects your childrenand your grandchildren. And the fundamental question is, do we have thewill in Washington, D.C. to take on the tough problems I went infront of the Congress and I said, look, now is the time to act. And Ifully understand, I'm telling you, the longer we wait, the tougher it'sgoing to be on younger workers. And so I said, all ideas are on thetable. I said, if you've got a good idea, bring it forward. I don'tthink there's a Democrat idea, I don't think it's a Republican idea, Ithink these are just ideas that need to be on the table. I think I'mthe first President ever to have stood up and said, bring all yourideas forward. And that's an important message for members of bothpolitical parties to hear, that if you've got a good idea, we expectyou to be at the table; we expect you to bring it forward. We -- Iexpect you to bring it forward, but more importantly, the Americanpeople expect you to bring it forward. There's a lot of people who knowwe've got a problem when it comes to this issue, and now is the timefor people to act. (Applause.) And I think when they bring ideasforward, they've got to be with one thing in mind: fixing this issuepermanently. In 1983, Tip O'Neill, Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole said, we'vegot a problem, let's see if we can't fix it. And they put together a75-year fix, they said. First of all, I appreciate the spirit ofRepublicans and Democrats coming together. But it wasn't a 75-year fix.This was 1953. We're only in 2005. It wasn't a 75-year fix. If it was a75-year fix, I wouldn't be sitting here talking about it. Now is thetime, if we're going to come to the table, to do so and fix itpermanently. Mr. Chairman understands that, and he's told bothRepublicans and Democrats, if you think you've got a good idea, bringthem forward. And people need to understand that, that we want tolisten to good ideas. President Clinton has some ideas when he was thePresident. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan had some good ideas. As amatter of fact, in 2001, he was the Democrat Senator from New York,he'd retired; I asked him to serve on a commission to look at SocialSecurity. Republicans and Democrats came together and they came up withsome very interesting ideas to fix the problem permanently. They didn'tsit around the table and say, I'm not going to listen to your ideabecause you happen to be a Democrat, and I'm not going to listen toyour idea because you happen to be a Republican. They said, we have aduty and an obligation to come together and make recommendations to thePresident and the Congress, not based upon parties, but based upon whatwill work. And one of the ideas they brought forward, both Republicansand Democrats brought forward, is in order to make the system work foryounger workers, that they ought to -- we ought to allow youngerworkers to set aside some of their own money in a personal savingsaccount as part of the Social Security; in other words, a voluntaryprogram that says you should be allowed to take some of your own money-- after all, it is your payroll tax -- and put it aside in an accountof bonds and stocks. That's what you ought to be allowed to do. Now,this doesn't fix the system permanently, but it makes the system abetter deal for younger workers, and I'll tell you why. First aconservative mix of bonds and stocks earns a better rate of return onyour money than the money that's being held in the Social Security --by the government. And that's important for people to understand.(Applause.) And as that money earns, it is a compounding rate ofinterest. It grows. For example, you take a worker making $35,000 overhis or her lifetime, and say, for example, a third of the payrolltaxes, or 4 percent, were allowed to go into a personal savingsaccount, that the nest egg that person would own over time in aconservative mix of bonds and stocks would grow to $250,000, see. Thatwould be a nice part of a retirement package. There will be a SocialSecurity system that the government is going to pay you benefits. Ican't pay you how much until we get people together to the table. Butit will be augmented -- your Social Security plan, your benefits willbe augmented by the money coming out of your own account. In otherwords, money grows if you hold it over time. It's not growing right nowat a significant enough rate. It will grow if you're able to save it.Secondly, I like the idea of people owning something. I want morepeople owning something, not fewer people. There's this kind of notionthat this investor class in America only applies to a certain group ofpeople. That's not what I think. I think the more investors we have,the more owners we have in America, the better off America is. And Iwant to see ownership spread throughout all our society. (Applause.) Ilike the idea of someone working their lifetime building a nest eggthey call their own and passing it on to whomever they want. That oughtto be -- that idea ought to be available to people from all walks oflife. I like the idea of having a plan to help somebody whose spousemay have died prior to retirement. Think about the Social Securitysystem today. If you're a -- been working 30 years, started at age 21,and you're 51 years old and you pass away, and you still -- and you'vegot a wife or a husband, the money in the system -- the wife or husbanddoesn't get any of the money until he or she retires. And then, if heor she happens to be working, he or she only gets -- only gets thehigher of that which the Social Security will pay for him or her or thespouse, but not both. So you've got somebody who's worked their life,contributed to the Social Security system, died early, didn't get onedime of retirement, and the money just goes away. Doesn't it makesense to allow somebody to set aside some of their own money, if theyso choose, in an account they call their own, and if they pre-deceaseor die early, there's an asset base to be able to pass on to a lovedone, to help that loved one transition. (Applause.) And finally, Idon't know if you know this or not, but we have, at the federal level,what's called a Thrift Savings Plan. In other words, this idea hasalready been used by federal employees. Members of Congress, members ofthe Senate are allowed to set aside some of their own money in aconservative mix of bonds and stocks so they get a better rate ofreturn. Now, in other words, this is -- we're not inventing somethingnew. For example, federal employees can't take their money and put itin the lottery, or you can't take it to the racetrack. In other words,there's a prescribed way -- a mix of bonds and stocks that is -- thatwill allow you to get a better rate of return than your money in thesystem, without taking extraordinary risks. In other words, there'sgo-bys, there's guidelines. And it's already happening. Doesn't it makesense for members of Congress to give younger workers the opportunityto do the same thing with their money that they get to do in theirretirement system Frankly, if it's good enough for federal workers andelected officials, putting aside some of your own money in a personalsavings account, it ought to be good enough for all workers inAmerica. So that's my thinking on the subject. I've got some otherpeople up here been thinking about it, too, and I'm going to start withJeff Brown, Dr. Jeff Brown, Ph.D. Isn't that right DR. BROWN: That iscorrect, sir. THE PRESIDENT: So you are now a -- DR. BROWN: Professor.I'm a professor at the University of Illinois. (Applause.) All right.Wouldn't think I was in Hawkeye country here. (Laughter.) THEPRESIDENT: Big Ten country. (Laughter.) Certain kind of loyaltythroughout the conference. DR. BROWN: And I've been studying SocialSecurity now for about ten years. THE PRESIDENT: I like to remindpeople, by the way, he's one of my -- he's an advisor. So for thestudents here, take heart in this concept. He gets a Ph.D. I get Cs.(Laughter.) I'm the President and he's the advisor. (Applause.) DR.BROWN: All those years of education. THE PRESIDENT: That's right. Keeprolling. You studied the issue. DR. BROWN: Yes, so, you're absolutelyright that Social Security faces very severe financial problems, andthey start very soon, just about 12 years from now. Really they startearlier, three years from now when the baby boomers start to retire andthose surpluses that we're running start to dwindle down. Then theyturn to deficits a few years later. * * * * * THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it'sestimated, for example -- if you're a younger person, listen carefully-- that if nothing happens, if we wait and delay, if it's kind of thetypical political response, just wait to the -- you know, wait until2017 to call people together, that in order to make sure that thesystem works, that your payroll taxes are going to 12.4 percent to 18percent. Try that on, if you're working. That's not -- by the way, thatdoesn't include federal income taxes, state taxes and local taxes. Andso now is the time -- I think what Jeff is saying, now is the time forus to deal with this problem. Now, again, I want to repeat, there's acouple of things about personal accounts that I think is important.One, it's just an optional plan. Shouldn't we give people the option ofmaking the decision themselves (Applause.) That seems like areasonable approach for government. Doesn't it say -- doesn't it makesense for government, people of both political parties to say, if youthink you can do a better job than we can with your money, here's anopportunity to do so. It's voluntary. I happen to be a person whoactually trusts people. It's your money; I trust you with your ownmoney. To me that's an attitude that Congress ought to take: We trustyou with your own money. (Applause.) Is that it, Professor You did afine job, as usual. Q Joe Studer and Jinny Adams. Been married for howlong You got to speak in the mike. MR. STUDER: Sixteen years. MS.ADAMS: Going on 16 years. THE PRESIDENT: Sixteen years -- great. Gotany kids MR. STUDER: Nine between us. THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic. Anyof them here MR. STUDER: Yes, yes, Angela is right over there. THEPRESIDENT: Oh, there's Angela. Good. MR. STUDER: My daughter-in-law iswith her. THE PRESIDENT: I understand you're adoptive parents. MS.ADAMS: Yes. THE PRESIDENT: Thanks for adopting. It is one of thegreatest acts of love that a person can do. I appreciate you doingthat. (Applause.) MS. ADAMS: Can I mention that it's her 23rd birthdaytoday THE PRESIDENT: Whose birthday MS. ADAMS: Angela's. THEPRESIDENT: Angela, would you like a little notoriety here (Laughter.)Mom just gave you some. Happy 23rd birthday. (Applause.) And by theway, at the age of 23, you better hope that we permanently fix theSocial Security system. (Laughter.) Anyway, thank you all for coming.Joe, you got some retirement income MR. STUDER: We both haveretirement income, much thanks to the federal government. I was afederal employee. THE PRESIDENT: Good, yes. MR. STUDER: Started thatcareer when I was 40 years old, did a career change -- kind of likeyou. (Laughter.) And I was able to, first of all, get an excellentretirement plan from my employer, which I'm now taking advantage of.And secondly, in the early '80s, we had two opportunities to put moneyaside. One was the IRA that I was able to contribute a total of $6,000to and watch it grow, and then lastly, the Thrift Savings Plan you'retalking about is the option that we all had as federal employees atthat time -- three choices. I contributed one-third of my contribution,12 percent of my wages, to each choice: conservative,semi-conservative, and the ever risky stocks and bonds, the stocks inthe stock market. THE PRESIDENT: Right, and how did you do over timeMR. STUDER: My thrift savings plan is approaching $100,000. THEPRESIDENT: No, I'm not asking about that. MR. STUDER: Oh. THEPRESIDENT: You're giving too much information here. MR. STUDER: Oh,okay, okay. (Laughter.) THE PRESIDENT: That's like asking a farmer --or a rancher how many cattle he's got. (Laughter.) Was the rate ofreturn decent on the money MR. STUDER: Excellent. And -- but we'vehad our down years. It goes up and down. THE PRESIDENT: Sure. But overtime -- MR. STUDER: It's been a lot better than Social Security. THEPRESIDENT: Yes. MR. STUDER: It's far better than doing nothing. THEPRESIDENT: Yes. I talked to a person today who showed me her thriftsavings account return at the restaurant, there, and they had averagedabout 6.5 percent over time. There's a big difference between 6.5percent growing over time and the 1.8 percent the government gets onyour money over time. And that difference compounds a lot if you're ayounger person. You start saving now at a 6.5 percent rate, it grows,doesn't it MR. STUDER: Yes, it does. THE PRESIDENT: $100,000, that's-- you brought it up, not me. MR. STUDER: That's right. (Laughter.)But I'm proud of it. It was one of the better decisions I made in mylife. This was the -- THE PRESIDENT: And let me ask you, for somepeople out there saying, I don't think I've got the capacity to make aninvestment, to figure out what to do, was it a difficult, complexassignment MR. STUDER: Initially, it was kind of scary. But -- and Iwas -- THE PRESIDENT: Looks like you've adjusted quite well. MR.STUDER: Yes, we have. Yes, we have. (Laughter.) And then verycomfortable with the assignment. And people that didn't join at thattime, did join two years later when they discovered how beneficial itwas. THE PRESIDENT: Yes. And, Jinny, you're a -- been in the schoolsystem. Thank you for teaching. MS. ADAMS: Yes, I have. I've been acounselor in the Cedar Rapids school district for 29 years. (Applause.)Thank you. Thank you. THE PRESIDENT: Are you getting Social Securityat all MS. ADAMS: Yes, I am. THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Any doubt you'regoing to get the check MS. ADAMS: None. I'm over 55. I'm in that55-plus-something group, and so I'm not worried. THE PRESIDENT: So amI. (Laughter.) MS. ADAMS: But I now have a retirement through the IPERSRetirement System. And we're doing fine. THE PRESIDENT: Yes, the keyis that people who are getting a Social Security check just got tounderstand, it's coming. It -- you will get your check. The question iswhether or not your children will. MS. ADAMS: Yes, and that's whywe're here, to help the situation for the young people. I think of theyoung teachers who are taking the places of those of us that havegraduated from work, and so basically, we are here for them, we're herefor our children, and we have 13 grandchildren. THE PRESIDENT:Thirteen grandchildren Great. MS. ADAMS: Yes, they are great. THEPRESIDENT: Yes, well, that's good. Grandchildren are great. You canalways just pass them back to the parents if things get a littlerough. MS. ADAMS: That's right. THE PRESIDENT: Come by the houseMS. ADAMS: Yes. MR. STUDER: Come to the baptism Sunday. THEPRESIDENT: Oh, really, you've got a baptism Sunday. Congratulations. Iwon't be making it, however. (Laughter.) MR. STUDER: Just thought I'dask. THE PRESIDENT: I don't think you want people going throughmagnetometers to the building. (Laughter.) Anyway, I'm glad you all arehere. Thank you. Joe and Jinny are here as -- to say loud and clear tothe people of Iowa, you're going to get your check if you're 55 andolder. I know I've said that once and I've said it -- I'm going to keepsaying it a lot. And it's important for people to hear it, because Iunderstand how important the Social Security check is to a lot ofpeople, a lot of people. The system has worked. Franklin Roosevelt waswise about setting up a safety net for retirement. The question is, dowe have the will in the United States Congress to make sure that safetynet is available not for this generation, my generation, but for thegenerations coming up. And we've got some of the generations coming upsitting right here, starting with Dennis Bogaards. MR. BOGAARDS: Mr.President. THE PRESIDENT: Dennis, welcome. What do you do for aliving MR. BOGAARDS: I'm a 33-year-old farmer from Pella. THEPRESIDENT: Farmer, that's good. MR. BOGAARDS: I've been farming since1992 with my dad, and -- (applause). Thank you. THE PRESIDENT: Seemslike there's a lot of farmers around this state, at least that's myexperience. MR. BOGAARDS: Well, I would hope so. * * * * * THEPRESIDENT: Yes, see, it's very interesting. You see a small businessmanwho talks about the fact that he is contributing into the system,wondering whether or not that which he's contributing into exists --will exist. He's -- I presume you've heard of the shortfall that'scoming your way. MR. BOGAARDS: Yes, and I want that money to beavailable to my son and daughter sitting over here with my wife. Andthat's very important in the farming operation, to be able to have thatmoney if I pass away, like you said, to have that money, that itdoesn't go away, that it's there for them if they want to continue thatfamily farm on. That's very important. THE PRESIDENT: Right. We've gotto get rid of the death tax, by the way, to make sure that the farm cango from one generation to the next. (Applause.) Right, Mr. ChairmanYes. Good. You making a living, by the way Making a living on thefarm MR. BOGAARDS: You know, we're working as hard as we can, andthis year doesn't look to be quite as good as last year was, butanything you can do for $10 beans or $5 corn would be great. THEPRESIDENT: I'll tell you what we can do, I'll tell you what we can do.We can sell those soybeans around the world, is what we can do.(Applause.) We can make sure that others get these good Iowa soybeans.I appreciate you coming. Isn't it interesting, here's a guy who farmsthe land, sitting up here with the President talking abut his worriesabout a Social Security solvency. I mean, this issue is beginning topermeate. People, whether they've been on a tractor or anywhere else insociety, are beginning to hear the message, we have a problem. And partof the strategy, by the way, is to spend a lot of time, and I'm -- overthe 60-day period when I got started, we're going to spend the timesaying to people, we have a problem, because guess what happens afterthat, once people figure out the problem. They start asking thequestions to people like me and Grassley and Democrats in the Senateand the House, what you going to do about it See, once peopleunderstand there's a problem, the next question is, how come you're notsolving the problem And so here we've got a soybean farmer from Iowasitting on the stage wondering whether or not there's the will to solvethe problem. MR. BOGAARDS: Exactly, that's a big concern. THEPRESIDENT: Well, I appreciate you being here to lend your voice to thisissue. MR. BOGAARDS: Thank you. And I just want to back up whatCharles -- what Senator Grassley said about you taking the leadershipto do this. I -- so many times we -- (applause) -- so many times wefeel like the tough issues aren't addressed and we just thank you somuch for your leadership in this issue and many others. THE PRESIDENT:Well, thanks, a lot. I appreciate you coming. Good luck on the farm.MR. BOGAARDS: Thank you. THE PRESIDENT: Lisa Loesch. MRS. LOESCH:Hello. THE PRESIDENT: Yes, ma'am. Hi. What do you do for a livingMRS. LOESCH: I'm an RN. THE PRESIDENT: Good. By the way, thiscommunity college system has got a program to help -- yes. Listen,there's fantastic programs in the community college system aroundAmerica to take willing workers, people with good hearts, and trainthem to become RNs. Thanks for being an RN. And you're working at thehospital MRS. LOESCH: I'm working at St. Luke's Hospital, which wasrecently voted one of the top hundred hospitals in the nation. THEPRESIDENT: Really MRS. LOESCH: Yes. (Applause.) THE PRESIDENT:Probably because of the nurses. MRS. LOESCH: Probably. Very likely.THE PRESIDENT: That's good. Thanks. It's interesting that you would besitting up here. Explain to me why -- what's on your mind * * * * *THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it's interesting -- I'm not going to tell youLisa's age, but she's, like, not quite baby boomer, but a little olderthan the man here. (Laughter.) And people are beginning to understandthat the promises that have been made to my generation may not be ableto be kept -- I think that's what you're saying. And your husband is aninvestment guy MRS. LOESCH: He owns his own financial firm, yes. THEPRESIDENT: Right. So he's used to stocks and bonds and all that MRS.LOESCH: He understands it all, yes. THE PRESIDENT: Yes. And the reasonI bring that up is that -- I mentioned this before, but there's thisnotion about only certain kind of people maybe have got the capacity toinvest, watch their own money grow. I presume he works with people fromall walks of life. MRS. LOESCH: He does. And we have six children andthree of them are already investing. As soon as they start a job, theystart investing. THE PRESIDENT: Really That's smart, because itcompounds. People understand compounding rate of interest. It grows. Imentioned the person making $35,000, which if you allow that person toput a third of their payroll taxes, not all that much money to beginwith, but because money grows and compounds over time, he ends up, orshe ends up with a $250,000 nest egg. In other words, that's what thepower of compounding rate of interest does. And it's something that weought to afford younger workers. It makes a lot of sense to encouragepeople to save their own money. You know what else I like I presumeyour husband's business clients get the quarterly statements. MRS.LOESCH: Yes. THE PRESIDENT: Doesn't that make sense, that in aretirement system that somebody opens up their quarterly statement tosee how their own money is growing It's your money to begin with.(Applause.) It might make people pay more attention to the decisionsmade in Washington, D.C. about what we do with your money. But I likethe idea of encouraging more people to become investors. And it's notall that difficult. Again, I repeat, these systems aren't going toallow you to go in the lottery, you can't take flyers. There's aprescribed group of bonds and stocks you can invest in, and you cantailor-make it to your own circumstances. But I want to thank you forthe philosophy you just outlined that says, why doesn't governmenttrust you with your own money It's yours to begin with. MRS. LOESCH:Thank you. THE PRESIDENT: Appreciate you coming, Lisa. You only gotsix kids MRS. LOESCH: Only. THE PRESIDENT: Wow. (Applause.) Anyteenagers MRS. LOESCH: Five of them are teenagers, four of them aredriving. THE PRESIDENT: Yes. So how come your hair isn't white likemine (Laughter.) Never mind. MRS. LOESCH: Because it's dyed. THEPRESIDENT: Yes. (Laughter.) And we're going to end up here with ChuckKnudsen. Welcome. MR. KNUDSEN: My name is Chris Knudsen. THEPRESIDENT: Yes -- I was thinking about your brother, Chuck. (Laughter.)MR. KNUDSEN: That's my dad, Chuck, actually. THE PRESIDENT: Chuck.MR. KNUDSEN: And he's over here with -- THE PRESIDENT: Where is ChuckWhere are you Oh, you had a terrible seat. MR. KNUDSEN: He's overthere somewhere. THE PRESIDENT: I'm actually here with Chuck's son,Chris. MR. KNUDSEN: It's a pleasure to be here today. THE PRESIDENT:You're a student here MR. KNUDSEN: I am a student here. I'm 20 yearsold. I'm a sophomore here at Kirkwood Community College. THEPRESIDENT: Great, thank you. MR. KNUDSEN: One of the finest communitycolleges in the nation. (Applause.) THE PRESIDENT: There's a manlooking for an A, right there. Good. Twenty years old MR. KNUDSEN:Twenty years old. THE PRESIDENT: Yes, and so here you are talking tothe President about Social Security. MR. KNUDSEN: I am. THEPRESIDENT: Why MR. KNUDSEN: Why Because my time outside of school ispretty much split between church and Scouts. I'm an elder in the FirstPresbyterian Church of Marion. THE PRESIDENT: Fabulous. MR. KNUDSEN:And the rest of my time is generally spent towards the Boy Scouts ofAmerica. I'm an eagle scout. THE PRESIDENT: Are you, congratulationsMR. KNUDSEN: Thank you. (Applause.) THE PRESIDENT: Setting a goodexample. What's that got to do with Social Security MR. KNUDSEN:Well, the last six summers I've worked at a Scout camp. I get a smallcheck. It's not very large, but I do see the Social Security and thetaxes taken off the top of those checks. And when I get those checksback, as I make more money each year, I continue to see more and moretaken. And I tend to wonder where exactly it's going. THE PRESIDENT:Yes. Interesting question, isn't it When you start seeing money takenout of your check and you start to hear we got a problem, and you startto wondering where the money is going. I'll tell you where it's going.See that red right there, that's where it's going -- unless we dosomething about it right now. MR. KNUDSEN: Exactly. THE PRESIDENT:It's interesting -- when I was 20 years old, I wasn't worried aboutSocial Security. I think of anybody else born around 1946, '47, 48, Idon't remember being 20 years old wondering whether or not the SocialSecurity system was solvent, because we thought it was, didn't we MR.KNUDSEN: Exactly. THE PRESIDENT: You didn't know, you weren't there.(Laughter.) MR. KNUDSEN: Well, I see what the future of Social Securityis, and I start to wonder if, when I become 62, if the money is goingto be there for me. The way the system is set up now, it's not going tobe. THE PRESIDENT: Well, I appreciate that. You know, there's a surveyof people Chris's age -- not Chuck's age, Chris's age -- that said theyare more likely to see a UFO than get a Social Security check.(Laughter.) MR. KNUDSEN: The way the system is set up, I tend tobelieve that. THE PRESIDENT: Yes. You know what's interesting aboutthis younger generation of folks is that the investment culture haschanged, if you think about it -- 401(k), IRAs, those didn't exist whenwe were growing up. People weren't used to have incentives to investtheir own money. But it's changed. All through society, people arelearning to invest their money. The system is designed for plans wherepeople can watch and manage their own money. That's what's changed inour society, hasn't it MR. KNUDSEN: I'd like to have the option tospend my money the way I would like to invest it. THE PRESIDENT: Yes.MR. KNUDSEN: I've been able to, through my dad, he showed me -- kept meup to date on the family finances and things like that. And I feel thatif I had some options with my own money, I could spend it wiser formyself than the government has with Social Security. THE PRESIDENT:Yes, invest it wiser. So you won't be spending it until you retire.MR. KNUDSEN: Exactly. THE PRESIDENT: In other words, it's veryimportant for people to understand, the nest egg you own is for -- isto be a part of a retirement system. In other words, the government isgoing to be able to afford something, and on top of that will be yourown nest egg. It's a part of the retirement system. And that asset basethat you build will not only help you in retirement, but if you sochoose, you can leave it to whomever you want, which is, I think, avital part of having a vibrant society, that assets are passed from onegeneration to the next. (Applause.) Good job. MR. KNUDSEN: Thank you.THE PRESIDENT: You want to have the final word or you want me to MR.KNUDSEN: I can go ahead and talk a little more if you would like.(Laughter.) I think the other key thing that most people are forgettingis the fact that if I felt that I wasn't wise enough to invest my moneyand I wasn't confident in myself, I have the option not to accept thepersonal account and leave the system as it is and take the system. SoI have the option of doing it if I care to or not. THE PRESIDENT:Precisely right. I appreciate you understanding that. I got the finalword. (Laughter.) MR. KNUDSEN: Okay. THE PRESIDENT: First of all, Iwant to thank our panelists for joining us. I hope you found this to bean educational discussion about a problem that we need to solve now. Ifyou're over 55 years old, you'll get your check. I don't care what thepropaganda says, I don't care what the pamphleteers say, I don't carewhat the ads say, you will get your check. Now, if you're a youngerperson here at this fine community college, you need to be asking thepeople in the United -- you don't have to worry about your Senator andCongressman, but you need to be a part of people saying, we have aproblem, you all got elected for a reason, now, what are you going todo about it to make sure the Social Security system is permanentlysolved. (Applause.) Thanks for coming today. I appreciate your time.God bless. (Applause.) END 1:06 P.M. CST Printer-Friendly Version Email this page to a friend IssuesBudget ManagementEducationEnergyHealth CareHomeland SecurityHurricanesImmigrationJobs & EconomyMedicareNational SecurityPandemic FluPatriot ActRenewal in IraqSocial SecurityMore Issues 59ce067264