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Democrats Hatch Plan to Quash Bush Social Security Reform Initiative

Opposition Democrats are intensifying their efforts to stop President Bush's plan to reform the government pension program known as Social Security.

Democrats in Congress, liberal groups affiliated with the party and organized labor have joined forces in recent months to stimulate grassroots opposition to the president's plan to save the Social Security system.

President Bush wants workers to have the right to set up private retirement accounts that could be invested in the stock market. He has suggested that pension benefits for wealthier retirees may have be to cut to keep the Social Security program financially viable.

The president believes the government pension program is headed for financial ruin in the next 20 or 30 years unless substantial changes are made. He recently concluded a 60-day national campaign to build support for reforming Social Security.

"You see, once the American people realize there is a problem, then they are going to start asking members of Congress from both parties why are you not doing something to fix it?" said President Bush.

Democrats oppose the president's proposal on private accounts as too risky. They also contend the Social Security program can be maintained without major cuts in pension benefits.

"Americans United To Protect Social Security is a national campaign made up of well over 100 organizations around the country, which is dedicated to protecting and strengthening Social Security," said Brad Woodhouse, spokesman for a liberal activist group that is working with congressional Democrats to defeat the president's Social Security plan. "First and foremost, by defeating the president's proposal to slash middle class benefits and to privatize Social Security."

Democrats cite recent public opinion polls that suggest support for the president's approach on Social Security has declined since he completed his nationwide campaign.

Republicans counter that the polls also show most Americans now are convinced that the pension program is in financial trouble, even if they do not agree on how to fix it.

Some Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton, are also urging their party to put forward their own plan to save Social Security, something the party leaders in Congress have so far declined to do.