President Bush has long been a proponent of investing a portion of payroll taxes in the private sector. For example, in 1999, then-Governor George Bush said to free-market crusader Stephen Moore, "I just want you to know ... that I'm really committed to these private investment accounts." In 2001, President Bush directed a 16-member bipartisan commission, the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security, to formulate a plan for Social Security reform that included voluntary personal retirement accounts. But it was not until the beginning of his second term in office that President Bush began in earnest his crusade to fundamentally restructure Social Security.
President Bush devoted considerable attention to reforming Social Security in his 2005 State of the Union address. In fact, the New York Times titled its transcript of President Bush's State of the Union Address, "We Must Pass Reforms that Solve the Financial Problems of Social Security." And, following his State of the Union address, President Bush began a blitz across the nation to campaign for his fundamental reform of the system.
President Bush claims to respect Social Security and its fundamental values. In his 2005 State of the Union address, he declared that "Social Security was a great moral success of the 20th century, and we must honor its great purposes in this new century." Citing the system's financial difficulties, he claimed that "we must join together to strengthen and save Social Security." Adding personal security accounts, however, would do nothing to strengthen or save Social Security. Instead, it would be the first and most significant step toward dismantling the system.
Kathryn L. Moore, President Bush's Personal Retirement Accounts: Saving or Dismantling Social Security, New York University Review of Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation 2005 (Alvin D. Lurie, ed.), Chapter 5