President Bush Wednesday lambasted a proposed Social Security tax cut as sleight of hand - but labeled as ``innovative thinking' a plan that eventually would make the retirement system private.
Bush said he was ``not prepared to endorse' a plan sponsored by Rep. John E. Porter, R-Ill., and the House Republican whip, Newt Gingrich of Georgia. ``It's worthy, though, of consideration, of some study,' he said.Under the Porter-Gingrich proposal, Social Security taxes would be gradually channeled into a type of mandatory Individual Retirement Accounts. As workers' IRAs grew, their claim on Social Security would decline. By the time today's workers are retired - about 50 years from now, Porter estimated - Social Security would be fully privatized.
Not discussed at the news conference but expected to be unveiled by Bush Thursday is the second phase of the National Drug Control Strategy, which an administration source said will call for spending more than $10.5 billion on the war against drugs in 1991, at least $1 billion more than this year.
Money for the Pentagon's effort to battle drugs would rise about 50 percent, from $880 million this year to $1.2 billion in fiscal 1991, a draft of the strategy said.
The new strategy will intensify federal anti-drug efforts in metropolitan New York, Miami, Houston, Los Angeles and virtually all of the Southwest border, sources said.
Bush's fiscal 1991 budget for the Department of Health and Human Services is expected to propose a cut of almost $350 million in appropriations to help the poor pay heating bills, officials said Wednesday.
Unless there is a last-minute change, the budget will ask that fuel funds be cut from the $1.393 billion level provided for fiscal 1990 to $1.05 billion for fiscal 1991.
On a percentage basis, the proposed cut in the fuel-aid program would be one of the largest in the HHS budget. In terms of dollars, however, Medicare is targeted to absorb the biggest HHS cuts. The administration is asking about $8.5 billion less than the amount needed.