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Bill Bennett Given Control Of Social Security Funds (G)

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A Safe Bet, Bush Reassures Nation

In a bold move to privatize Social Security, President George W. Bush today put all of the program's funds under the control of former Education Secretary William Bennett, urging Mr. Bennett to "work your magic" on the nation's nest egg.

Recognizing that many retirees are nervous about the privatization of America's retirement system, Mr. Bush reassured them today, stating flatly, "Bill Bennett is a safe bet."

"I have known Bill Bennett for many years," Mr. Bush told reporters. "This is a man who knows when to hold 'em and knows when to fold 'em."

A beaming Mr. Bennett stood at Mr. Bush's side, the former Education Secretary wearing what he later called "my lucky hat."

He spoke briefly with reporters before boarding a plane for the Venetian casino in Las Vegas, where he said he would begin to implement his "can't lose" investment plan for Social Security.

But on Capitol Hill, leading Democrats howled in protest over Mr. Bennett's appointment, arguing that the nation should not place an important program like Social Security in the hands of just one man, especially a controversial figure like Mr. Bennett.

"Why don't we just bet all our retirees' money on the daily double while we're at it," fumed South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson.

For his part, Mr. Bennett remained tight-lipped about his plans for the nation's retirement funds, telling reporters, "What happens in Social Security, stays in Social Security."

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