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White House: Bush Listening To All Ideas On Social Security January 9, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Politics, US News, White House.
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WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–U.S. President George W. Bush would prefer not to boost Social Security taxes, but is ready to listen to all ideas on entitlement reform, the White House said Tuesday, declining to explicitly rule out the idea of a tax hike.

“It’s interesting to see what people may have to propose, let’s listen to everybody’s proposals. The president’s already made his,” White House spokesman Tony Snow said.

Bush has tasked Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson with working with lawmakers on a fix for the ailing Social Security system. The talks, conducted behind closed doors, have triggered speculation that a bipartisan compromise could include raising the $97,500 limit on income subject to the Social Security payroll tax and adopting Bush’s proposed personal retirement accounts.

Asked if taxes were off the negotiating table, Snow said, “We never said that they were on the table.”

“The president has made it clear he doesn’t want to raise taxes on Social Security, but he’s also said, ‘you got a better idea, let’s hear it.’ People have interpreted that as a way of saying, ‘whooa, there they are, they’re going to go ahead and permit a backdoor tax increase.’ So far, we haven’t heard of anybody proposing tax increases,” Snow said.

Democrats have shown no willingness to accept retirement accounts, particularly if they are funded by payroll taxes.
Investment accounts, however, remain at the top of Bush’s Social Security reform agenda.

“We’ll let the debate proceed, but you know what the president’s bright lines are: he believes it’s important to have an investment component that allows people to take advantage of the far superior rates of return that one gets investing in a market place,” Snow said.

By Henry J. Pulizzi, Dow Jones Newswires

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