The latest news inside the Beltway hints that President Bush might be softening his hard line on Social Security reform.
According to a report from the International Herald Tribune, Bush has discarded his "do-it-my-way rhetoric" and gone so far as to admit that establishing private accounts will not guarantee longtime solvency for the 75-year-old retirement fund.
In a January State of the Union address, the president floated his first official Social Security reform proposal, which would allow workers to contribute a portion of their earnings to private accounts, most likely mutual funds.
The idea has met staunch opposition from Democrats and powerful special interest organizations, like the AARP and AFL-CIO, that say the 75-year-old pension isn't in trouble and argue that allowing workers to invest in private accounts leaves their retirement money susceptible to the volatility of the stock market.
Leading economists on Wall Street, which could benefit from the fees earned on managing thousands of new accounts, have said recently that there's no guarantee what sort of returns private accounts might deliver.
Now the president appears to be backing off personal accounts, although his new attitude could also be a calculated political move. Bush himself intimated in a White House briefing last week, the Tribune observed, that he wouldn't send a firm plan to Congress because "the first bill on the Hill is always dead on arrival."
Furthermore, White House staffers have confirmed that opponents to Bush's brand of Social Security reform have not weakened the president's resolve.
"People are not walking around with their heads hung on Social Security," said Joshua Bolten, the president's chief budget adviser. "When we have our Social Security meetings, and those are often detailed, substantive meetings, [the president is] consistently upbeat."
The staff of Money Management Executive ("MME") has prepared these capsule summaries based on reports published by the news sources to which they are attributed. Those news sources are not associated with MME, and have not prepared, sponsored, endorsed, or approved these summaries.