July 14, 2005

Republicans not giving up on Social Security revamp

By Donna Smith

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Key Senate Republicans on Thursday
vowed to push for President Bush's plan to revamp Social
Security despite congressional delays and solid Democratic

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley of Iowa
acknowledged after a closed door meeting that lawmakers would
not act until after the August recess. He had initially hoped
for action this month but is still seeking agreement among his
fellow Republicans and has not won over Democrats.

"The Finance Committee will continue its work on Social
Security by studying the options and considering how we might
achieve solvency and incorporate personal accounts," he said in
a statement.

On Wednesday House Republicans said they would delay action
on Bush's top domestic priority until at least September.

Lawmakers blamed the delay on a rush of other matters
including energy legislation and a Central American trade pact.
But Bush is having trouble building public support for his plan
to allow workers to invest a portion of their Social Security
taxes in individual accounts invested in stocks and bonds.

Democrats say the private accounts would undermine Social
Security's finances and add to huge budget deficits. Even some
of Bush's own Republicans have expressed skepticism.

Grassley has put forward several options, including
legislation dealing only with solvency issues facing Social
Security. But some senators advocate the opposite approach, and
want to move legislation dealing only with private accounts,
leaving benefit cuts, retirement age increases and other
measures addressing the program's cash flow for another day.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who
strongly supports individual accounts, said he believes Bush
could still succeed despite the delays, even if the debate
spills into the 2006 congressional elections.

"It may be the death blow, but it may give it new energy,"
said Graham who successfully campaigned on the private accounts