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August 20, 2002
Privatization of Social Security Losing Steam
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sident Bush's campaign to allow Americans to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes in the stock market appears to be flagging, especially as the market continues its long slide, the Miami Herald reports.

Always the subject of sharp attacks from Democrats, the idea is also losing support now among Republican candidates for Congress, according to the Herald.

Several Republican incumbents and challengers are actually coming out against Bush's plan to partially privatize Social Secuirty. Fueling the shift is the stock market's recent plunge, which has reminded voters of the risks of investing in stocks rather than other financial instruments that guarantee safe but modest returns.

Some, such as Reps. George Gekas of Pennsylvania and Charles "Chip" Pickering of Mississippi, are opposing the Bush proposal after praising it in the past. At least three Republican congressional challengers - Rick Clayburgh of North Dakota, William Janklow of South Dakota and Jon Porter of Nevada - have disavowed the idea of private accounts. And many other Republicans are playing down their previous endorsements of privatizing all or part of Social Security as a way to bolster the system before it goes broke.

According to the Herald, the president continues to call for giving workers the right to direct a portion of their Social Security payroll taxes to stocks or other investments by creating personal savings accounts. Bush says Wall Street's frequently impressive returns should boost Social Security as well as nongovernment retirement programs.

Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., author of a bipartisan bill to create individual savings accounts, acknowledged that some of his colleagues are "running for cover," making it more difficult for Congress to enact meaningful reforms.

"Politics always gets in the way of serious policy, and there are few issues where this is more true than Social Security," Kolbe said. "I think it's a mistake not to stick with the president's position."

To read the Miami Herald article, click here.

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