For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 29, 2005
Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
PRESS BRIEFING BY SCOTT McCLELLAN
TOPIC PAGE #
President Obasanjo visit..................................1 Social
Security............................1-7; 9-10; 14-18
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
Immediate Release April 29, 2005
PRESS BRIEFING BY SCOTT McCLELLAN
James S. Brady Briefing Room
12:34 P.M. EDT
MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon, everybody. I want to begin with
one announcement on the President's schedule. The President looks
forward to welcoming Nigerian President and current Chairman of the
African Union, President Obasanjo, to the White House on May 5th. The
President looks forward to discussing our bilateral relations,
Nigeria's role in the African Union's peacekeeping efforts in Sudan,
and regional stability for West Africa.
And that is all I have to begin with today, I will go straight to
Q Under the President's new proposal unveiled last night, would
average workers see a cut in their Social Security benefit?
MR. McCLELLAN: Steve, right now under the current system, all
Americans are facing significant benefit cuts. If we do nothing, all
Americans will see significant cuts in their Social Security benefits.
The Social Security system is on an unsustainable course. The facts
are very clear. In just three years from now, baby boomers are going
to start retiring and they're going to place a great strain on the
Social Security system.
As the President talked about last night, in 1950, you had 16
workers supporting every one retiree; and today it's about 3.3 to one,
and soon it's going to be two to one. So you have a growing number of
retirees and a smaller number, or a decreasing number of workers paying
into the system to support their benefits. And in just over a decade,
it's projected that the Social Security system will be paying more out
in benefits than it's taking in, in payroll taxes. And then by 2041,
of course, it goes bankrupt. And that's why we need to come up with a
permanent solution, one that not only fixes the system once and for
all, but also makes it better, as the President talked about last
That's why personal accounts are such an important part of any
comprehensive solution that is reached by members of Congress. And
that's why the President is going to continue talking about that. But
the President put forward some additional ideas last night that he
believes should be part of any solution to fixing the Social Security
And he also made it clear that when we're talking about Social
Security, it's working fine today; it's working fine for today's
seniors and those near retirement; we shouldn't change it, we're not
going to change anything for those who are currently retired or near
retirement. What we're talking about doing is fixing it for our
children and grandchildren, and also giving them the opportunity to
really build a nest egg of their own. That's the great thing about
personal accounts. Personal accounts will allow them to have more
control over their own retirement savings, if they so choose. It's
voluntary. These are voluntary personal accounts.
And it will allow them to realize the magic of compounding
interest; allow them to realize a much greater rate of return on their
benefits. And so you have to look at both of these together -- the
permanent fix along with the personal accounts -- and the opportunity
that it will give to Americans to realize a much greater rate of return
on their savings.
Q Under the Pozen plan, he has a specific formula on who gets
what and how benefits are determined. Is the President signing on to
all elements of this Pozen plan?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, he was saying that he's proposing an approach
that is based on what Mr. Pozen outlined. And he was a Democratic
member of the President's commission that looked at all these issues.
And all of those members came to a conclusion that Social Security was
headed on an unsustainable course. We face an $11 trillion unfunded
liability under the current system. And we shouldn't be passing that
on to future generations. And each year that we wait it's another $600
billion in cost that will be passed on to our children and
grandchildren. That's why we need to act this year and get it fixed
once and for all.
But the President did last night in his remarks make it clear that
any solution ought to make sure that the benefits for lower-income
Americans will continue to grow under what is promised under the
current system. But the current system cannot deliver that promise.
And so lower-income American benefits will grow faster than the
wealthiest. He thinks this is a smart way to approach this issue and
come to a bipartisan solution. And last night he was putting forward
these ideas in order to advance a bipartisan solution so that we can
get something done this year.
Unfortunately, there are some Democratic leaders who continue to
take the "do nothing" approach. And the "do nothing" approach will
lead to significant benefit cuts for all Americans. And the ones who
will be hit the hardest will be lower-income Americans, who rely
completely on Social Security. Those are Americans that don't tend to
have the opportunity to have other retirement accounts, where they will
have more benefits set aside than just what's offered under Social
Q Scott, can you just explain how the President's plan would
MR. McCLELLAN: How the President's plan would work?
Q Yes. I mean, you explained it in the gaggle when --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you look at the Pozen model --
Q -- you talked about low income, sliding scale. Can you --
MR. McCLELLAN: Right, there would be a sliding scale. And that's
what -- we put out a fact sheet on this last night, I think it
explained it all for you. And I think the Pozen model is a good way to
look at it, because it is based on that kind of approach. It's a
progressive approach and the President believes it's the way we ought
to proceed on a comprehensive solution, while also providing personal
accounts. He wants to make sure that if people so choose, that they
can invest some of their savings in personal accounts and realize a
much greater rate of return on their savings.
I think if you look at the estimates from the Social Security
experts, they'll say that personal accounts, on a conservative
estimate, are going to realize returns of some 4.6 percent -- that's
compared to the current system, which is around 1.8 percent in what
it's returning. And the President, as he said last night, believes it
should not be just for the wealthiest Americans to be able to realize
the magic of compound interest -- all Americans should have the
opportunity to realize the benefits from compounding interest.
Q Scott, if you're expecting a benefit check of a certain level,
and a benefit check comes in that's a lot less than that, isn't that a
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let's talk about -- let's talk about this,
because there are essentially two options --
Q Why isn't it a cut?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- two options we have right now.
Q Can you explain why that's not a cut, though?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, what are you comparing it to?
Q A check that you're expecting versus the one that you get.
MR. McCLELLAN: The current system -- the current system if we do
nothing will lead to significant benefit cuts for all Americans. All
Americans. That's why we need to fix the system. That's why we need to
make it permanently sound. And the clock is now starting to tick on
Democratic leaders. They need to come forward with ideas and quit
simply standing in the way of solutions. The American people expect
their leaders to work together to address problems and not engage in
partisan schemes that simply block solutions.
Q I understand the nature of the debate, Scott. The use of the
word "cut," if you're expecting a check of a certain level, and another
one comes in that's less than that, why is that not a cut?
MR. McCLELLAN: It's a question of how fast the benefits grow,
Mark. That's what the question boils down to. Under the current
system -- that's why I'm pointing to -- there's the promise of the
current system, but that promise is an empty promise. And if we
continue on the current course, Americans -- all Americans, including
low-income Americans -- are going to see significant benefit cuts.
That's the "do nothing" approach.
The President recognizes that we have serious problems facing
Social Security and the American people recognize that we have serious
problems facing Social Security. If you go back and look over these
last 60 days when we've been campaigning out across the country, more
and more Americans have come to the conclusion that there are serious
problems facing Social Security and that Congress needs to act. And
that means Democratic leaders need to stop blocking solutions and start
Q So what you're saying, though, is that either way it's a cut
-- it's just, you pays your money, you takes your choice? Either way
benefits would be cut, the President wants to do it one way --
MR. McCLELLAN: What I'm saying, under the current system if you do
nothing, there are going to be significant benefit cuts. That's why
the President believes we need to have a permanent solution; that's why
he believes personal accounts are so important, because personal
accounts -- personal accounts will enable you to realize a much greater
rate of return.
I just pointed out what the conservative estimate is. I think many
people would expect to realize much more. If you look back at the
stock market from 1926 to 2004, the real rate of return from the stock
market is nearly 7 percent. What we're talking about is a conservative
mix of bonds and stocks that people would be able to choose from, much
like members of Congress and federal employees can do today under the
Thrift Savings Plan.
But the President also added an additional option, which was that
if you want to invest in even a safer option, then you could put it
aside in all Treasury bonds. So what you need to do, Mark, I think is
go to Democratic leaders and go, you are talking about problems, well,
what ideas are you putting on the table -- because it's time to come to
the table with ideas and quit blocking solutions.
Q I'm asking about the use of the word "cut," because earlier
today you called -- you said it was irresponsible to use that word, and
I'm just trying to figure out --
MR. McCLELLAN: No. No. Actually --
Q -- whether that would appropriately apply.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- let me correct you. That's not what I said.
That's not what I said. I said it's irresponsible when a headline says
that, Bush cites plan that would cut Social Security: affluent more
effective. That leaves the impression, one, that it's affecting
everybody now; and, two, that that applies to everybody across the
board. That's not the case, and you know that that's not the case.
And that's not what -- I disagree with the way you characterize the way
I cited it.
Q Scott, I imagine millions of Americans who saw the President
last night may be wondering when they become well off, when they become
affluent. Does the President have some idea in mind as to what income
level, retirement income level, looking towards the future, I guess,
this index, this sliding thing would kick in?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we're going to be working with Congress on
those issues. The Pozen model, what it did, was say for the lowest 30
percent of Americans, the lowest-earning income Americans in that
lowest 30-percent bracket, they would see the promise of Social
Security realized under the current -- under that approach. And then
it's a sliding scale on the way up to the wealthiest Americans. And so
you might want to look at that model. It's based on that approach.
And that's what we're going to work with Congress on.
And what that approach will do also is address 70 percent of the
funding problem facing Social Security. And the President has already
said that there are a number of other ideas for addressing that
remaining 30 percent that he believes should be on the table. He
welcomes all constructive ideas for coming together to permanently fix
it. And he believes very strongly, as you heard last night, that any
solution needs to include personal accounts because you can't look at
the system solely based on this progressive indexing system. You have
to look at the opportunity that younger Americans will have to realize
much more when they choose -- if they so choose -- a voluntary personal
Q Why is the White House asking for racial profiling for the
private reception for the White House Correspondents Dinner?
MR. McCLELLAN: One, we're not. I think the law enforcement
officials, the Secret Service can talk to you about that and tell you
why they have done that for a long time for criminal background checks,
and so that they can get those checks done in a timely manner. But you
might want to talk to the Secret Service about that.
Q They've done it for years?
MR. McCLELLAN: They could --
Q Also, I have an unrelated question.
MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, go ahead.
Q Why is it that the President, who considers himself a
compassionate President, is giving the biggest tax cut to the richest
people in this country and cutting Medicare -- Medicaid, I mean, and
programs for the poor? I mean, how can you justify that?
MR. McCLELLAN: You actually asked me this question earlier today
Q I did. I didn't get a satisfactory answer.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, only in Washington, D.C. is a 35-percent
increase in funding for Medicaid considered --
Q Who's going to pay for this war? Who's going to pay for the
MR. McCLELLAN: -- a cut. And in terms of the tax cuts, the tax
cuts were for all Americans. And the largest percentage --
Q The biggest to the richest people?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- of tax cuts go to the lower income Americans.
And the tax cuts were important to get our economy growing. And our
economy is growing because of the policies we have implemented. It is
growing strong and forecasts are that it will continue to grow strong
in a very sustained way.
Q So the rich should get the richest -- the biggest tax cut?
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead. Helen, you're not letting me respond.
Q Scott, Drudge reports that at last night's presidential news
conference, "CBS, NBC and Fox cut off President Bush in mid-sentence as
NBC rushed to Donald Trump, Fox to Paris Hilton, and CBS to Survivor."
And my first question, why does the President recognize for questions
those reporters whose networks treat the White House with such
MR. McCLELLAN: Les, the President was glad to answer questions
from a diverse group of reporters and he was --
Q Oh, it was?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- pleased to answer their follow ups, as well.
The President took questions for I think well over 45 minutes -- well,
probably even more, closer to an hour, in terms of questions.
Q ABC radio affiliate. (Laughter.)
MR. McCLELLAN: But, now, look, in terms of cutting away on the
last question, look, I don't think the President took any offense to
that. He was trying to wrap it up so that they could do that very
Q In recognizing reporters last night, it appeared once more as
if the President were following a script of pre-selected names. And my
question, does the President believe that the American people really
want to see questions by essentially the same old pre-selected
reporters every time?
MR. McCLELLAN: Les, some of your colleagues in this room might not
like that kind of question here. (Laughter.)
Q That's just tough duck.
MR. McCLELLAN: But in terms of -- it is good to have you back,
though. In terms of your question, the President typically likes to
start with some of the larger news organizations and some of the
traditional media, and then open it up from there. That's just the way
he approaches it.
Q You mean those networks that are losing -- they are losing and
those newspapers that are losing circulation?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think Wendell had a question.
Q Does the President support the element of the Pozen plan that
reduces the government-paid Social Security benefit by the amount the
person is able to accumulate from the personal accounts?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, that's not something he was talking about last
night in his remarks. What he was talking about was the progressive
indexing, and that's what he was referring to. We feel very strongly
on the personal accounts that they are important for several reasons.
One, a personal account would be something that Washington can never
take away. It would be the ability of younger Americans to realize a
much greater rate of return than what they would under the current
system on their own retirement savings. And it would give them the
opportunity to pass that on to their heirs, because it's their money.
Washington can never take it away. But what's important about the
personal account is that it really allows them to realize a greater
rate of return and build and grow that nest egg so that they will have
a secure retirement.
Q So as I understand this then, the money invested in the
personal account diminishes Social Security's government-paid benefits
by only that much withdrawn, that 2 percent, 4 percent, or whatever it
MR. McCLELLAN: That's the approach the President has talked
Q And the different accounts which may accumulate different
amounts of money over time, you're not penalized if your account does
better than, say, someone else's? Your government-paid benefit is not
reduced by the amount you're --
MR. McCLELLAN: The benefit offset would be what you take out and
invest in that personal account.
Q And not how much it grows?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's correct.
Q Is it the President's intention to use that as a benchmark,
getting 70 percent of the problem with Social Security fixed with
progressive indexing, and then find something else to do with the other
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry, say that again.
Q You just said that the progressive indexing would take care of
about 70 percent of the problem.
MR. McCLELLAN: That's right, that's right.
Q Is that the President's benchmark? If he's using the Pozner
[sic] model but not the exact figures. Is that his intention --
MR. McCLELLAN: That's why I said it's approximately 70 percent,
based on the -- based on the approach that Pozen put forward.
Q And from the 70 percent, because you've said before in the
past that personal accounts would have some up-front transition
finance, would take money away from it, how much do you have to make up
for the personal accounts out of the 70 percent that you thought you
could achieve with the progressive indexing?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, this is getting -- you're getting into
transition financing issues and stuff. And the one the President has
talked about with personal accounts is that it would be gradually --
gradually phased in. And these are issues that we want to work through
with congressional leaders on in the legislation that we'll be moving
forward in Congress. We greatly appreciate Chairman Thomas coming out
today and laying out a schedule for hearings. Senator Grassley has
already started hearings in the Senate Finance Committee. Both
chambers are now stepping up their legislative activity and moving
forward on legislative efforts.
I think congressional leaders recognize the importance of acting
this year. And we appreciate the steps that they are taking. And
we're going to continue consulting closely with them as we move
And one other thing about -- that the President pointed out last
night and that he proposed was making sure that no American retires in
poverty. Right now under the current system you have some 2 million
retirees who have paid their benefits into Social Security and the
returns they're getting leave them living in poverty. And the
President believes that should not happen. And that's why he believes
any solution ought to make sure that no American retires in poverty.
Q Scott, I promise the last question about this, the Taiwan
opposition leader's trip. But he had a meeting with the Chinese
President and they agreed to promote cross-strait relations and pursue
long-term peace. However, the Taiwan government still showed very
little willingness to have dialogue with the mainland and still
criticized the opposition leader's gestures. Do you have any
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, and I think we kind of talked about this the
other day. One, we all have a shared goal of peace and stability in
the region. And we believe cross-strait dialogue is important to
promoting peace and stability in the region. And we welcome dialogue
between China and leaders in Taiwan.
Now, we believe that it's most important that there be dialogue
between Chinese leaders and the elected representatives of the
government of Taiwan. And so we would hope that this would be a sign
that China will continue to move forward on a dialogue with President
Chen and representatives of his government, which is the duly elected
government in Taiwan.
Q But he set some conditions to have the dialogue. The
Taiwanese government really didn't show much interest in having the
dialogue with the mainland.
MR. McCLELLAN: We'll continue working with the parties in the
region and continue to encourage them to engage in dialogue to promote
peace and stability in the region.
Q Scott, organizers of the Minuteman Project were here in
Washington this week and they were claiming success for their 20-day
effort patrolling -- they say legally patrolling -- a stretch of the
U.S.-Mexican border. I'm wondering if the White House has any -- had
any chance to review their efforts at all, and what the President's
view is of citizens taking this kind of action?
MR. McCLELLAN: I haven't heard any update from any -- official
government update on the activities along the border. I think the
President and we've expressed our views on this issue and made our
views known. The President's initial concern was that people who are
armed might be taking matters into their own hands, instead of letting
the appropriate authorities deal with these matters. The President
believes very strongly that people ought to report suspicious activity
to the proper authorities and let the proper authorities address it.
And so any concern that we have would be with, you know, loosely group
of armed individuals trying to take matters into their own hands.
Q They claim they were giving just that, they were reporting
MR. McCLELLAN: That's why I pointed out the difference in our
concerns. If people are simply reporting suspicious activity to the
proper authorities for them to follow up and act on, that's a different
Q So if they do that without weapons then the President would
welcome that sort of activity?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, I would leave it there. I'm not going
to try to speculate a hypothetical situation. But that's the
distinction I would make.
Q They're not vigilantes, in other words.
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry, Les?
Q The Minutemen are not vigilantes.
MR. McCLELLAN: Are you talking about the President's comments
earlier during the summit down in Waco? Is that what you're referring
Q Where he -- I think he --
MR. McCLELLAN: And that was before -- let's --
Q -- certainly implied that all these people were vigilantes.
MR. McCLELLAN: I think --
Q And I don't know they hanged anybody. I never heard of them
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that was a question that was asked before
some of those activities took place, and there were a lot of reports
about people taking things into their own hands. And that would be
something that would greatly concern the administration.
Q The Minutemen didn't take it into their own hands, did they?
MR. McCLELLAN: You've had your questions, thank you.
Q How long has the President been --
MR. McCLELLAN: I was pointing behind you, but that's okay.
Q It's all right, you go ahead.
Q The President last night called upon the new Iraqi Prime
Minister not to politicize the Iraqi army. Does the President have any
reason to believe this is what's happening to the Iraqi army now?
MR. McCLELLAN: No. The President was simply talking about the
importance of continuing to build upon the progress that is being made
in training and equipping the Iraqi security forces. He has received
very positive updates from General Casey and General Petraeus about the
training and equipping of Iraqi security forces. That's an important
part of completing our mission in Iraq. The President wants to make
sure that the Iraqi forces are trained and equipped and have a command
structure in place to deal with the threats that they face themselves,
so then at that point our troops would be able to return home with
There are obviously difficult challenges that are ahead for the new
transitional government. The President was glad to speak with Prime
Minister Ja'afari yesterday and congratulate him on his election. The
President praised him for his courage. And the two leaders talked
about the importance of continuing an ongoing dialogue and continuing
to have regular contact as the Iraqi people move forward to build a
peaceful, democratic and free future. We are going to continue to do
everything we can, along with the rest of the international community,
to support the transitional government as they move forward on drafting
a constitution, and as they move forward on conducting elections for a
And as the President pointed out, they had a very good discussion
about the constitution, as well, and the importance of continuing on
the timetable that was set out, of August. And there appears to be
that commitment from the Iraqi leadership to move on that timetable.
They recognize the importance of moving forward on the political
process, and the importance of moving forward on the economic and
reconstruction front, as well as the security front, because all those
will help to defeat the determined enemy of democracy in Iraq.
There is a determined enemy. We saw their latest attacks today.
They have no regard for innocent civilian life. They have no regard
for the Iraqi people. They want to do everything they can to stop the
transition from democracy -- transition to democracy. They will be
defeated. And I think you are seeing that the Iraqi security forces
are performing admirably and stepping up and addressing those security
threats themselves. And we appreciate what they're doing.
Q Yes, how long has the President been familiar with and
supported the Pozen plan?
Q -- a lot of respect for the Iraqi people, who shot them all --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry, hang on. Say that again?
Q How long has the President been familiar with and supported
the Pozen plan?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you know that he's been talking about it
recently and expressed some interest in Mr. Pozen's approach. He was a
member of the President's bipartisan commission on Social Security.
And so this is something he's been looking at for some time.
Q So is this the one?
MR. McCLELLAN: Is what the one?
Q Is this the plan that the President wants to see go forward?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, the plan is a permanent solution along with
personal accounts. And he believes that when we fix Social Security
that this progressive indexing approach ought to be part of the overall
solution, along with personal accounts. Because as the President said
last night, we have a shared responsibility to address this problem.
And we have a shared responsibility to make the system better for our
children and grandchildren.
Again, nothing changes for those who are retired today. The system
is working fine for them. Nothing changes for those that were born
prior to 1950, those near retirement that were born before that time
period. What we're talking about doing is making sure that Social
Security is there for people in my generation and younger generations,
because I think most of us believe, and recognize, right now, under the
current system, it's not going to be there for them. And I think they
recognize the benefit and the opportunity that personal accounts
presents, as well.
Q On the progressive indexing, the President, last night, said
that low-income benefits would rise faster than the well off, but he
didn't really put it in the context of middle class. And there's a lot
of critics out there saying that they would be very hard hit if, for
the middle class, he used a combination of wage indexing and price
MR. McCLELLAN: They're going to be hard hit under the current
system if we do nothing. Those individuals who are criticizing these
proposals have offered no ideas of their own. They need to come
forward with ideas and come to the table and work with us to achieve a
bipartisan solution that will permanently fix Social Security and make
it better for our children and grandchildren. That's what the American
people expect. You know, no ideas is not a solution.
Q Scott, following up on that, when you say low-income benefits
rise, that describes people in what income brackets -- from what to
MR. McCLELLAN: Maybe you missed what I was saying earlier. Under
the Pozen approach -- I mean, it's those in the lower 30 percent that
would be -- the lowest 30 percent that would be --
Q Okay, so the lowest 30 percent would have ceiling of, what,
MR. McCLELLAN: You can look at the Pozen approach. We're going to
be working with Congress. As I said, the President is not endorsing
every element of it, but it's that approach that he believes ought to
be part of a comprehensive solution that would include personal
accounts, as well.
Q So, put another way, then, you're not going to name figures,
but that's a number that will be negotiated with Congress?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's a number we'll work through with Congress on
the legislation as part of a comprehensive solution, yes.
Go ahead, Ed.
Q Scott, can I follow up on that? So another way to try to
understand this is, is it that the middle class of today, when they
reach retirement, will collect more than the post-reform middle class?
MR. McCLELLAN: The middle class of today will -- I'm sorry?
Q Right, when they reach --
MR. McCLELLAN: Are you saying, under the current system if nothing
is done? Is that what you're asking?
Q No -- well, let's talk about the near-retirees, then. I mean,
basically, we're trying to compare two -- two segments of the
population and we're wondering if the people in one particular group
after these changes will collect less in benefits than those that would
MR. McCLELLAN: Under the current system? Are you asking under the
MR. McCLELLAN: Because the current system, as I pointed out, the
Social Security Administration pointed out that in 2041, all
beneficiaries under the current system would receive a cut of 27
percent in their benefits. And that would hit the lowest-income
workers the hardest, because they don't have those extra savings set
aside in other retirement plans, typically. And the poverty rate would
also double, from about 2 percent to 4 percent for beneficiaries who
are between the ages of 64 and 78. These are -- this is what the
Social Security Administration has pointed out.
And so if you're talking about under the current system versus
under our approach, they're going to be better off, they're going to be
Q He's talking --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, no, I'm coming to that. They're going to be
better off under the approach that we're taking than the current
Q How about -- let me -- can I try once more? What about the
people who are in retirement now and are collecting --
MR. McCLELLAN: Nothing changes.
Q Let me finish. But they -- these are people -- you take the
people who are retired now and are collecting benefits, you take those
who were in the middle class, before they retire. Okay? Are those
people now, who are in retirement, are they going to have more than the
middle class of post-reform?
MR. McCLELLAN: Those people that are currently retired? Well, I
think the last -- the President last night pointed out -- the President
pointed out last night that all should receive benefits as good as or
better than those who are currently retired, as he pointed out.
But you have to look at it, too, in the context of personal
accounts. Let's not leave out personal accounts because the President
is saying, here's an opportunity for you, if you choose, to realize
much more than what the Social Security system could deliver for you.
And that's an important part of the President's comprehensive solution;
that's why we need to move forward and not only permanently fix it, but
give younger Americans the opportunity to invest in personal accounts,
But let's go to the bottom line here, because, I mean, you were
asking a question. You have to look at -- you have to compare it to
the current system and what the current system can deliver, not what it
can promise, because we know it can't deliver what it promises.
And so that's why I said, when you compare it, this approach will
be better for the class of Americans you're reporting to and would help
them realize more, and possibly even much more if they chose to invest
in personal accounts. And at some point, Democratic leaders have to
stop just blocking solutions and come to the table with ideas because
the American people know there are problems facing the system.
Democratic leaders have now acknowledged, okay, there are problems
facing the system, yet they can refuse to offer any ideas for a
solution. I think the American people want to see them, instead of
engaging in partisan politics, offering constructive ideas for
Q Scott, could I ask one quick technical question about the
Pozen plan? He envisions a hike in the wage ceiling. Does the
President support that?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, what he's -- he hasn't endorsed every single
element of the Pozen plan. It's the approach that he has put forward.
And we want to make sure that the lowest income Americans continue on
the current system under what is promised and that they would be able
to receive what is actually promised, but today won't be delivered if
we continued on the status quo path.
And so that's the approach that he's taking. We're going to
continue working closely with Congress, but what he proposed last night
is what he said in his remarks and what was put out in our fact sheet,
Q Scott, if the Pozen plan takes care of 70 percent of the
problem, leaving you 30 percent, what -- all the options the President
has mentioned during the 60-day tour, those remain on the table, like
raising the retirement age?
MR. McCLELLAN: He's not -- this is not the time to be ruling
things out. The President has made that very clear. And this is a
Q Is he going to leave it up to Congress to fill the 30 percent,
or is --
MR. McCLELLAN: He said he welcomes all ideas for advancing a
Q Is he going to come up with more proposals like he did last
night, and offer them?
MR. McCLELLAN: We hope Democrats would start coming to the table
with their ideas. But there are a number of different ways and ideas
that have been discussed to address that remaining 30 percent. There
could be a combination of ideas within that, as well. And the
President looks forward to working with Congress to -- but this takes
us quite a bit of the ways there towards finding a permanent solution.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you. Have a good weekend.
END 1:07 P.M. EDT