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Bush To Keep Talking About Social Security

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President Bush acknowledged Tuesday that his efforts to reform the Social Security system are facing an uphill battle, but he asked lawmakers to help him continue to press the issue.[@@]

In a press conference at the White House Rose Garden, the president tried to make a case for changing the system for younger workers while assuring older Americans that their benefits would not be reduced. Although lawmakers may be hesitant to touch the politically volatile Social Security issue, the American people are expecting action, the president said.

“We’re just beginning the process, and I want to remind people who might be listening that this is not an easy issue for people in Washington to discuss,” the president said. “There’s a lot of people calculating the political consequences of making a tough vote, you know. Or they’re == they remember the old campaigns of the past where if you even talk about Social Security, somebody will use your words to try to defeat you at the polls.”

Today, the president said, people have begun accepting the idea that there is a problem with Social Security. “The next question the people are going to ask [is], ‘What do you intend to do about it?’” the president said.

The president pointed to House Ways and Means Committee hearings as an example of efforts by Congress to start to look at Social Security. But he also said he believes resolving Social Security’s problems will take time.

“It’s just going == it’s like water cutting through a rock,” the president said. “It’s just a matter of time. We’re just going to keep working and working and working, reminding the American people that we have a serious problem and a great opportunity to act, not as politicians, but as statesmen and women to solve a problem.”

Bush said he intends to keep discussing Social Security and his private accounts proposal until the Democrats in Congress agree to begin talks with the White House.

“Oh, I know, I’ve read about so and so, we’re not going to talk about this and we’re going to throw down this marker,” he said. “But in the meantime, the people are watching Washington and nothing is happening, except you got a president who’s willing to talk about the issue == and a president who, by the way, is going to keep talking about the issue until we get people to the table.”