Before President Bush could even fire the first official volleys of his campaign to reform Social Security during last week's State of the Union, AARP, the nation's leading defender of the fund, was mobilizing its troops in vigorous opposition. Other groups with deep campaign pockets, like the Republican National Committee and the liberal group MoveOn.org, were also lining up in formation.

While the president told the nation last Wednesday that "all ideas were on the table," he seems to be gravitating towards a private account system that would resemble the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), a retirement supplement created for government employees 20 years ago. It offers its 3.3 million members a choice of five private investment options: an S&P 500 index fund, a small-cap index fund, a bond fund, a variable rate contract and an international fund. It's managed by the Department of Agriculture and boasts roughly $140 billion in assets.

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