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Inside Politics

Bush plans prime-time news conference

Will offer 'more specifics' about Social Security plan Thursday

From Andrea Koppel

President Bush will talk about Social Security and energy, the White House says.
White House
George W. Bush

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush will hold a prime time news conference Thursday to discuss two "important priorities" for the White House -- Social Security and energy -- a spokesman said Wednesday.

"This is an important period in the national debate over strengthening Social Security," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.

On Sunday, Bush is slated to complete a 60-day, 60-city tour during which he has called for change in the nation's retirement program for the elderly.

The tour was billed as an opportunity to educate the American people about the president's ideas to overhaul the Social Security system, which was established in the 1930s as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal during the Great Depression.

The president has emphasized that his proposal would give younger workers the option of creating private investment accounts funded with Social Security payroll taxes.

Bush has said that the benefits of current retirees would not be affected.

A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll showed the president faces obstacles in changing the program.

In the poll, 64 percent of respondents said they disapproved of the way Bush is handling Social Security, and 31 percent said they approved.

On the question of private accounts, 51 percent of respondents said they opposed such an idea and 45 percent said they supported it. The margin of error for both questions was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Thursday's event would mark Bush's fourth prime time East Room news conference since taking office in January 2001.

The president will use it as an opportunity to go into "more specifics" and lay out "ideas for a bipartisan solution" regarding how his proposal to revamp Social Security would work, McClellan said.

McClellan said Bush would also discuss his ideas for addressing the nation's growing energy needs.

On Wednesday, Bush delivered his second speech in a week on energy -- and laid out ideas to address U.S. energy problems. (Full story)

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