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Congressional Democrats criticize Social Security commission

President Bush discusses the Social Security commission on Wednesday as former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan listens  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Calling President Bush's commission on Social Security weighted in the president's favor, Democratic congressional leaders on Wednesday criticized the makeup of the White House panel.

The president said the commission would propose ways to overhaul Social Security, which he described as "insecure."

In Wednesday's Rose Garden ceremony, Bush announced that former Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and AOL Time Warner executive Richard Parsons would lead the 16-person panel. AOL Time Warner is the parent company of CNN.


Democratic leaders accused the Bush administration of arranging the panel to ensure a decision that would favor the president's position.

"I don't know that there's anybody who would dispute the fact that this commission is already a predetermined group that will be organized for a clearly desired result to privatize Social Security," Democratic Senate Minority leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, said after the news conference.

"After the last six months in the stock market I am shocked that the president would really be trying to move forward with this proposal," added House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Missouri.

Bush has proposed bolstering the retirement plan by allowing U.S. workers to invest part of their Social Security payroll taxes in personal retirement accounts.

"If we fail to act, it will be a crisis," Bush says about Social Security  

"Social Security is a challenge now. If we fail to act, it will be a crisis," said Bush, whose commission is made up of Republicans and Democrats who favor the partial privatization idea.

Government estimates predict that in about 15 years Social Security will begin paying out more money than it takes in, possibly reaching insolvency by 2037.

"Until this point I never believed I was going to get anything out of Social Security when I retired," said the 48-year-old Parsons, AOL Time Warner's co-chief operating officer.

The commission could present its findings to Bush as soon as this fall.

CNN White House Correspondent Kelly Wallace contributed to this report

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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