Des Moines, Iowa President Bush on Friday advocated allowing American workers to put a share of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts and have financial advisers to guide their investment decisions.
"You ought to be trusted with your own money," Bush said to workers at a Des Moines printing business that offers 401(k) plans. "A 401(k) recognizes who owns the money. Watching that money grow on a tax-free basis makes a lot of sense."
He later touted that plan and his anti-terrorism efforts at a luncheon fund-raiser that brought in $475,000 for Rep. Tom Latham and the state GOP. The president said he'd like to see Latham re-elected because Latham, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, agrees the massive spending increase Bush seeks for the U.S. military "is the right priority for the country."
"It makes no sense ... to replace someone who is on the Appropriations Committee with someone who's not," Bush said. "Forget political party. If you care about the future of Iowa, ... send this good man back to Washington, D.C., come November."
Bush recalled his campaign statement that only war, a national emergency or a recession would lead to a return to deficit spending "Little did I realize we would get the trifecta," he said but stressed that he would not allow Congress to spend so much that the deficits get out of hand.
"That's why the president has the veto pen," Bush said.
Bush is talking up his proposal to allow investment of Social Security taxes in the stock market as pensions and retirement savings are emerging as an issue in this year's midterm election, courtesy of the collapse of Enron Corp.
Opponents say such a change could jeopardize retirement plans of millions at times when the stock market is bad, such as the last 18 months.
Young workers who want to exercise that option should also be allowed to consult with financial advisers, Bush said.
The president suggested Congress take a look at pension laws and find a way for employers to provide that guidance "without fear of some junk lawsuit."
"One issue I am concerned about is that a company like (this) right here cannot offer sound investment advice third-party advice to the worker because they are afraid to get sued," Bush said.