The president did not give specifics but outlined several principles for tackling the problem with Congress. He said there should be no change to seniors’ benefit structure or increase in payroll taxes.
“I’m looking forward to working with members of both chambers and both parties to confront this issue today before it becomes more acute,” the president said, according to the Associated Press.
Mr. Bush also reiterated a call he made on the campaign trail for younger workers to be able to invest some of their contributions into private accounts. White House officials acknowledged, however, that allowing younger workers to invest would not plug the projected shortfall.
“It will take more to solve the problem than just personal accounts,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Wednesday. That option would be one part of a comprehensive plan to address Social Security, he said.
President Bush is expected to propose details of his comprehensive plan in January.
Although he has pledged not to raise payroll taxes, experts say he would have little choice but to borrow the funds, amounting to $1 trillion to $2 trillion in order to continue paying benefits to current and near-retirees, reported the AP.
The president also told the conference he would send Congress “a tough budget” early next year to hold the line on federal spending.
He cited his tax cuts as helping revive the economy and said his strategy will be “to grow the economy with reasonable tax policy but to make sure the deficit is dealt with by being wise about how we spend money,” according to the AP.