President Bush emphasized today during his last press conference of the year that he wants Social Security reform efforts to protect the benefits of older Americans.[@@]
Bush noted that Social Security will be one of several important items on his domestic agenda during his second term in office.
Other items will include tort reform, immigration reform and education reform, along with efforts to address the budget deficit, Bush said, according to a written transcript of the press conference.
And Bush talked about the importance of avoiding too much discussion about the details of his Social Security reform goals.
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Reporters and others will try “to get me to negotiate with myself in public,” Bush said. “I’m not going to do that. I don’t get to write the law. I will propose a solution at the appropriate time, but the law will be written in the halls of Congress. And I will negotiate with them, with the members of Congress, and they will want me to start playing my hand.”
But Bush did give some general answers about how he wants to see Social Security reform efforts proceed.
In the past, Bush has emphasized that he wants Congress to let workers put a portion of their Social Security contributions into investment accounts that would be managed by the workers themselves.
“I fully recognize this is going to be a decision that requires difficult choices,” Bush said.
Bush said any changes would have to protect the interests of people who are near retirement age and people who already are collecting Social Security benefits.
“The minute you bring up Social Security reform, people go running around the country saying — really, what he says is he’s going to take away your check — or that which you have become dependent upon will no longer be available for you to live on,” Bush said. “And so, therefore, part of setting the stage, or laying the groundwork for there to be a successful reform effort is assuring our seniors that they just don’t have to worry about anything. The formula they’re relying on won’t change.”
Other Bush comments about Social Security reform and related matters:
- The payroll tax “will not go up.”