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Excerpt from July 12, 2002 Press Briefing with
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

Click here for the full transcript

Q: Now, a group of Democrats had a news conference on the Hill today, including Senator Daschle and Representative Gephardt, in which they said the administration has a, quote/unquote, "secret plan" to privatize Social Security; that they are filing a discharge petition and want a vote on this plan or the plans proposed to the president by the commission before the election.

FLEISCHER: You know, again, I think at a time like this people are looking to people in Washington to work together. Remarks by one party suggesting other parties have secret plans are disappointing.

There are 80 million Americans who own stock in our country or mutual funds. They are a piece of a growing pie, and they want their nest eggs to grow and they want to have comfortable retirement years. They're invested for those reasons.

And I think it's fair to say that these 80 million people are looking to Washington, D.C., and their leaders for solutions and not sniping, they're looking to their to their leaders for bipartisanship and not bickering. And that's what the president is going to focus on.

Q: What's the answer to his question?

Q: So the proposals for -- though they characterize it as privatizing the entire system, the recommendations were for private accounts within the overall system.

FLEISCHER: On the timing of what's before the Congress, the president does, of course, believe that younger workers, who, right now, are going to receive no money for their Social Security taxes that are taken out of their paycheck, deserve to have more options. And on a voluntary basis, if they choose to put their money in the stock market, he thinks that is appropriate for those younger workers to have that right under Social Security.

But I think if you look at the congressional calendar, they have not been able to take action on many of the issues on which the House of Representatives passed legislation last year, let alone be able to take up something new.

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