As we enter the summer season, my administration is working hard to keep our economy growing and creating jobs. Next week, I will talk about some of my plans to help American families achieve long-term economic security.
On Tuesday, I will discuss Social Security reform with young people in Pennsylvania. I will remind them that the Social Security system is in good shape for their grandparents and for anybody born prior to 1950. I will also tell them that we must act now to strengthen and modernize Social Security so these young people can have a secure retirement. Our young people understand that if we fail to act, Social Security will not be sound when they need it. They know that the millions of baby boomers about to retire will live longer and collect benefits that the system cannot afford.
As we make Social Security permanently sustainable, we must also make it a better deal for younger workers, by allowing them to set aside a portion of their payroll taxes in voluntary personal savings accounts. These accounts would provide the opportunity to earn a higher rate of return than the current system can offer. Personal accounts would contribute to the economic security of Americans by allowing them to build up a real nest egg, something they own and can pass on to their spouse or children, and that government cannot take away.
On Wednesday, I will address the Energy Efficiency Forum here in Washington, and renew my call for Congress to act on the energy plan I proposed four years ago. Today's high energy prices are like a tax that drags on our economy. We must ensure that American families and small businesses have access to a reliable supply of affordable energy. My energy strategy will lessen our dependence on foreign oil by encouraging conservation, promoting domestic production in environmentally friendly ways, and funding promising new sources of energy such as hydrogen, ethanol, and biodiesel. It will also modernize our aging electricity grid.
The House has passed a good energy bill; now the American people expect the Senate to act. For the sake of our economic and national security, Congress needs to get a good energy bill to my desk by August.
On Thursday and Friday, I will discuss a key element of ensuring health care security for our nation's seniors. The Medicare modernization bill I signed into law in 2003 created a new prescription drug benefit, so our seniors could have more choices and receive the affordable modern health care they deserve. This voluntary benefit begins next January, and seniors will be eligible to enroll starting this November. The plan will provide many options for dependable prescription drug coverage through Medicare. During the coming months, we will work to educate all of our seniors about this new benefit, so they can choose confidently the drug plan that best meets their needs.
Finally, to ensure economic security for all Americans, Congress needs to keep your taxes low and be wise with taxpayers' dollars. I proposed, and the House and Senate passed, a responsible budget resolution that meets our priorities and keeps us on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. The weeks ahead will bring important decisions on government spending, including the highway bill. Congress needs to soon send me a fiscally responsible highway bill that modernizes our roads and bridges and improves safety and creates jobs.
Achieving economic security for all Americans requires us to confront challenges now, not pass them on to future generations. In the coming weeks I will work with Congress on all these priorities, so we can strengthen our nation's prosperity for generations to come.
Thank you for listening.