(2) $275 billion from the SSA Old Age, Survivor’s Insurance (OASI) Trust with assets estimated at $1.5 trillion.
By LEIGH STROPE, AP
(Dec. 16) -- President Bush spoke Thursday to the Social Security panel calling Social Security, his leading legislative issue for next year.
Pressing for an overhaul of the system, under increasing financial pressure as the baby boom generation retires and claims benefits.
He compared the structure of the accounts to the investment plan available to federal workers - the Thrift Savings Plan, a tax-deferred retirement investment plan similar to a 401(k).
He spoke to a Social Security panel, which included officials from financial service companies and others supporting his overhaul for the program.
Investments are not without risk, as seen by the Thrift Savings Plan's annual returns. Federal workers have five investment options, including government and corporate bond funds, a stock fund that tracks the S&P 500, an international fund and other stock funds. The stock funds performed well in the 1990s, with the largest annual returns ranging from 20 percent to 43 percent. But in the 2001 recession and later, they have posted annual losses as high as 22 percent. Over 10 years, all the funds were profitable, the plan's Web site said.
One of Bush's panelists talked about the resiliency of the U.S. economy, calling attention to the unreliability of the financial markets.
"Everybody knows we faced an incredible number of shocks in the last several years. These shocks, which, by the way, destroyed almost half of the stock's market value in a short period of time," said James Glassman, senior economist with JP Morgan Chase.
The shocks, including the 2001 terrorist attacks and the corporate accounting scandals, "were potentially as devastating as the shocks that triggered the Great Depression," he said. "And yet, the experts tell us the recession we just suffered in the last several years was the mildest recession in modern times."