NEW YORK – Denouncing President Bush's plan for Social Security (search) reform as one that would disproportionately hurt blacks, NAACP leaders asked to meet with the president to discuss the issue, the NAACP (search) chairman announced Saturday.
Julian Bond, speaking at a news conference during the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's annual meeting here, also said he expects to name the Baltimore-based organization's new president by July.
"I want someone with the fund-raising ability of Bill Gates (search), with the oratorical ability of Martin Luther King and the managerial ability of someone who's managed big, big things successfully and done well," said Bond, who has repeatedly declined to identify potential candidates.
A search committee has interviewed more than 200 candidates to replace Kweisi Mfume, who was NAACP president for nine years and resigned in December.
Last week NAACP leaders asked to meet with the president, submitting a letter to the White House that detailed their concerns over education and unemployment but which focused largely on Bush's plan to privatize Social Security.
"This proposal is extremely dangerous to us," said Hilary O. Shelton, the NAACP's Washington bureau chief.
Among married couples, twice as many blacks as whites rely on Social Security for their entire retirement income, and blacks in their 50s are twice as likely to become disabled as whites, he said.
But Bush says blacks would stand to benefit from his privatization plan because, on average, they die earlier than whites and would not have to wait until retirement to receive benefits.
That argument has rankled many black leaders who denounced the president for trying to capitalize on the life-expectancy problem — one they say is rooted in health disparities and urban violence — rather than solve it.
"It's disingenuous for him in the context of this debate to raise those issues, to use those numbers to support an initiative that's flawed on its surface," Shelton said.
The NAACP also is battling the Internal Revenue Service, which threatened to revoke the 95-year-old organization's tax-exempt status after Bond gave a speech criticizing the Bush administration.
In other goals for 2005, the association also plans to curb police brutality by setting up watchdog groups, to urge removal of the Confederate flag from South Carolina's statehouse and to reduce racial disparities in education and health, Bond said.