WASHINGTON -- After a five-state tour promoting his plan to add private accounts to Social Security, President Bush pledged yesterday to go beyond that proposal and to push for an overhaul to make the system permanently solvent.
In his weekly radio address, Bush said that the budget he submits to Congress tomorrow will hold the growth of discretionary spending below the projected 2.3 percent rate of inflation.
Discretionary programs are ones Congress must approve again each year; the White House estimates their cost at $823 billion this year.
''I welcome the bipartisan calls to control the spending appetite of the federal government," Bush said.
The president spent the two days after his State of the Union address in rallies to press Congress to back his idea for letting younger workers put as much as to two-thirds of their Social Security tax contributions into accounts invested in stocks and bonds. In return, those workers would see an unspecified reduction in their traditional Social Security benefit.
The Social Security system needs radical change to be saved, Bush said, and a step he is proposing is private accounts. He said the accounts would give the younger workers allowed to set them up a better rate of return, and would be something they could pass on to heirs. Bush did not mention possible negative results.
''We will make the system a better deal for younger workers by allowing them to save some of their payroll taxes in voluntary personal retirement accounts, a nest egg they can call their own, which government can never take away," the president said.
A new poll by Princeton Survey Research Associates for Newsweek magazine, has indicated that skepticism about Bush's has significant work to do to convince Americans that his approach is the right one. His plan to divert Social Security money into private retirement accounts had the approval of just over a third of those surveyed.
In addition, a majority, 56 percent, said it is too risky to invest Social Security money in the stock market, the poll found.
Almost Nearly a quarter of those polled said they approved of Bush's proposed changes.