ASPEN " Sen. John McCain's appearance Thursday in Aspen happens to coincide with the 73rd anniversary of the Social Security Act, and a group of retirees plans to protest in response to the presumed Republican presidential nominee's recent remarks about the retirement program.
The Colorado Alliance for Retired Americans is organizing a gathering of mostly Front Range retirees to protest during McCain's engagement at The Aspen Institute's Greenwald Pavilion.
The national alliance has staged protests elsewhere around the country at McCain campaign stops, but this will be the first in Colorado, according to Bernadette Horchner, field representative for the state group.
The alliance will bring protesters from the Front Range in vans; others, possibly including some Western Slope residents, will get to Aspen on their own, according to Horchner. She wasn't sure whether any local retirees would join the protest. She expects 15 to 20 retirees to participate, but said there may be more.
The Colorado group and the national alliance have been expressing alarm since McCain's remarks at a July 7 town hall meeting in Denver.
Asked by an audience member about the future of Social Security, McCain responded: "Under the present set-up, because we've mortgaged our children's futures, you will not have Social Security benefits that present-day retirees have unless we fix it, and Americans have got to understand that. We are paying present-day retirees with the taxes paid by young workers in American today, and that's a disgrace; it's an absolute disgrace, and it's got to be fixed."
A YouTube video clip of McCain's discussion of Social Security at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts can now be found on the Internet, along with various other video clips of the candidate addressing Social Security.
"We are there to let him know the system has worked for 73 years," Horchner said.
"We're just absolutely flabbergasted that a man who has been collecting close to $24,000 a year in Social Security has called it a disgrace," she said. "He doesn't give back the money."
The Alliance for Retired Americans fears the privatization of Social Security " a move McCain appeared to advocate before modifying his position to call for supplementing the current system by allowing younger workers to invest part of their tax dollars in personal accounts.
McCain's appearance in Aspen, scheduled at 3 p.m., is sold out.