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Bush Pushes Social Security Reform Agenda, Some in Rochester Audience Skeptical

By Eileen Buckley

Rochester, NY – President Bush brought his Social Security reform message to Western New York Tuesday. Bush appeared at a school in a suburb of Rochester before a group of invited guests.

"Strengthening Social Security for the 21st Century" was the theme of the President's appearance in Greece. Bush says as 70 million baby boomers prepare to retire, the system will run be running in the "red" by 2017. He says there are fewer workers paying into the system and more people retiring. But Bush assured Americans that those born prior to 1950 should not be concerned about proposed changes to the system.

"If your a grandmother you will get your check," Bush said. "You need to be worried about your grandson."

Bush says Congress should consider his plan to reform Social Security that would call for "progressive indexing." And the President says his reform effort would allow younger workers to set up, voluntarily, personal investment accounts as part of a revised Social Security program.

"Notice I said voluntary," Bush said. "The government should say to a worker, if you want to, you could money aside. If you want to, you don't have to."

But there was some skepticism among the invited guests. Athena High School Senior Paul Scholl says Bush left out some "critical information."

"Not everyone is going to be able to put a third of their pay check into an account," Scholl said. "To have your money managed, you will also have to deal with fees, and I think he neglected to talk about that. Not everyone in the lower income brackets are going to be able to do this."

And even the president of the Greece Chamber of Commerce was a bit critical of the Bush reform plan. Carlos Mercado liked the speech, but says Bush left out some important factors when it comes to private investment accounts.

"The one area that they would have to be very carefully with and monitor is when people go into an investment account," Mercado said. "They need to understand what they are doing and fully appreciate the risk. Investments go up and down, and we wouldn't want is a bunch people that lost all their money and have to go back to the government to get it. So, there is a tremendous amount of responsibility and that is part of the process."

Democrats say the President's reform plan would destroy Social Security. The program turns 70 years old this summer.