Young Americans Focus on Social Security

When it comes to the Social Security (search) debate, it turns out that many young people aren't looking only as far ahead as the next weekend, but are already planning for retirement.

The debate has popped up on college campuses nationwide. At Notre Dame University in Indiana, a 'Save Social Security' bake sale was held to get the attention of fellow students.

"Students for saving Social Security believe in voluntary personal retirement accounts so that people have the option to make investments that are extremely safe and can save for their retirement and have that money for retirement set aside just for them," Notre Dame sophomore Shawn McCoy said.

Students at the University of Chicago have collected signatures on petitions against privatizing Social Security.

"It's our job to raise awareness for this because we're going to pay the largest price for this problem," sophomore Jonathon Klinger said.

Groups such as Rock the Vote are behind much of the effort to get students talking about Social Security.

"This is a group that cares about the issues and we want politicians to realize that and to respond to their needs," said Cate Brandon of Rock the Vote.

But a random sample of opinions suggests that Social Security may not be a college student's most immediate concern.

Research papers and grades occupy a lot of students' minds.

"It's pretty much the last thing on everybody's mind," one student told FOX News.

Nonetheless, FOX News polling suggests the most enthusiastic supporters of President Bush's proposed personal savings accounts are young people.

"They absolutely care about this issue. ... Right now there are so many young people who are already receiving the benefit from Social Security, so many under the age of 18 who have faced an unfortunate loss of a parent or their parent has been disabled. Social Security affects 4 million young people today already," said Jehmu Green, 32, president of Rock the Vote.

Younger voters' groups such as Rock the Vote are hoping that just the debate itself will build on the record amount of young voters who turned out last year and will get them to the ballot box again in large numbers in the next election.

Green, however, made it clear she doesn't think Social Security needs the upheaval Bush is proposing.

"This generation wants to be able to have a secure retirement and that's what Rock the Vote is doing, making sure that Washington, D.C., and the politicians that are here in this city are going to speak the truth to young people, that they are not going to manipulate them and tell them that there is a crisis when there is not," she said.

To that, conservative radio talk show host Ben Furguson, 22, said a crisis is something that is most definitely on young people's doorsteps.

"There is a crisis in Social Security; [former President] Bill Clinton said when he was president that there is a crisis," he said.

"George W. Bush is tackling a difficult issue and he is speaking not to just the young generation but to Americans, saying there is a problem that we need to solve, and I think the president's leadership is speaking volumes."

Click in the box near the top of the story to see a report by FOX News' Steve Brown.