President Bush is still thinking about what he wants to do to shore up the United States’ retirement income security program.[@@]

Recent press reports have suggested that Bush will be proposing that Social Security base future benefit increases on changes in the Consumer Price Index, rather than on changes in wages.

Because wages tend to go up faster than inflation, the change could lead to big cuts in the purchasing power of future retirees’ Social Security benefits, experts say.

Press reports also have suggested that the government might let each worker shift as much as $1,300 in annual Social Security payroll taxes into a private account.

But Scott McClellan, the president’s press secretary, said today at a press briefing that Bush continues to want to move forward on Social Security reform in a “bipartisan way.”

“The president hasn’t made any decisions about a specific proposal at this point,” McClellan said, according to a written version of his remarks.

The president wants to support a proposal that would have no effect on Social Security benefits for “those at or near retirement,” McClellan said.

“But we want to strengthen [the system] for younger workers and provide them with a new — with a new benefit that would help them realize an even greater rate of return,” McClellan said.

McClellan compared the kind of savings program that Bush might support to the savings program now available to federal employees.

The transcript of the press briefing and a video recording are on the Web at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/01/20050104-3.html