Source Pravda.Ru

Bush made Social Security his top legislative priority

Over the objections of many of its own employees, the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/politics/2002/09/18/36802.html ' target=_blank>Social Security Administration is gearing up for a major effort to publicize the financial problems of Social Security and to convince the public that private investment accounts are needed as part of any solution.

The agency's plans are set forth in internal documents, including a "tactical plan" for communications and marketing of the idea that Social Security faces dire &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/comp/2002/09/07/36129.html ' target=_blank>financial problems requiring immediate action.

Social Security officials say the agency is carrying out its mission to educate the public, including more than 47 million beneficiaries, and to support the agenda of&to=http:// english.pravda.ru/usa/2002/08/08/34055.html ' target=_blank>President Bush, writes the Seattle Times.

"Trust fund dollars should not be used to promote a political agenda," said Dana Duggins, a vice president of the Social Security Council of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents more than 50,000 of the agency's 64,000 workers and has opposed private accounts.

Social Security trustees say the program's financial problems will grow as Baby Boomers retire. The program will pay out more in benefits than it collects in revenue in 2018, they say. By 2042, they say, the trust fund will be exhausted, and tax income will be sufficient to pay only 73 percent of scheduled benefits.

In campaign-style speeches, Bush and other officials have said that Social Security is headed for bankruptcy and that workers should be allowed to divert some of their payroll taxes into private accounts, as a way to build wealth for themselves and their heirs, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Bush has made Social Security his top legislative priority, but has yet to propose a detailed plan or explain how he would pay for the transition to private accounts.