Pursuing one of the top goals of his presidency, George W. Bush set out in 2005 to privatize Social Security, the retirement savings program that ended widespread poverty of the elderly. Bush proposed that voluntary personal retirement accounts be used to replace all or part of the traditional Social Security program. With Congressional allies, the Bush Administration crafted legislation (H.R. 3304 - Growing Real Ownership for Workers Act of 2005) to authorize the transfer of money from the Social Security trust fund to pay for private accounts, known as GROW accounts. Several other bills also were introduced that would privatize Social Security by establishing individual accounts within the Social Security system either on a voluntary or mandatory basis (S.857/H.R.1776, S.1302, S.2427, H.R.440).
Researchers who analyzed the proposals concluded that privatizing Social Security would do little to improve the program's long-term financial solvency and would significantly reduce workers' overall future retirement benefits.
Advocacy and citizen groups successfully rallied against the privatization effort, using a variety of campaign tactics, including organized rallies, town hall meetings, and the production and distribution of educational materials. This coordinated campaign was able to systematically apply pressure to the political forces behind this large national privatization proposal.
Ultimately, H.R. 3304 never made it out of committee for a House vote, and the Bush Administration never made significant progress on privatizing Social Security.