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Bush renews push to alter Social Security


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President Bush pushes his plan to overhaul Social Security.
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Social Security
Radio Address
President George W. Bush

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush, back home from his trip to Europe, plans to renew his push to overhaul Social Security, which has emerged as a initiative for the administration.

"Now that I'm back home, I'm eager to move ahead with one of my top domestic priorities: strengthening and saving Social Security," the president said in his weekly radio address.

Bush said he plans to get the word out to younger workers that the retirement system will slide into bankruptcy if changes aren't made.

He said he will be making appearances in New Jersey and Indiana next week to push his program.

"Massive numbers of baby boomers, like me, will soon begin to retire. People are living longer and benefits are scheduled to increase dramatically, and fewer workers will be paying into the system to support each retiree.

"For you younger workers, the current system has made promises that it cannot keep -- and that is also a fact. Every year we wait to address this problem will make any eventual solution more painful and drastic, and we will saddle our children and grandchildren with an ever-greater burden. We need to act now to fix Social Security permanently."

Bush said "all options are on the table" for making the system stronger "with the exception of raising the payroll tax rate."

"I'm willing to listen to any good idea. And I will work in good faith with members of Congress from both parties on this issue. Some in Washington want to deny that Social Security has a problem, but the American people know better and you have the power to determine the outcome of this debate," Bush said.

Bush reiterated his proposal "to set aside part of your payroll taxes in personal retirement accounts. "

"These accounts would be voluntary; the money would go into a conservative mix of bond and stock funds that would have the opportunity to earn a higher rate of return than anything the current system could provide. And that money would provide a nest egg to supplement your traditional Social Security check or to pass on to your children. Best of all, it would replace the empty promises of the current system with real assets of ownership."

The Social Security issue has generated much debate, and Bush said he is "pleased with the progress of the national discussion on this issue."

As for the baby boomers, who fear changes to their benefits, Bush said "I will continue to reassure those of you born before 1950 that your Social Security benefits will not change in any way: You will receive your checks, and that is a fact."


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