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Panel studying proposals to firm up Social Security

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate committee is analyzing proposals to shore up future funding for Social Security by creating personal accounts, but the lawmaker leading the inquiry says an overhaul is unlikely this year.

"I bet we don't do it this year," Sen. John Breaux of Louisiana, a Democratic ally of the White House on personal accounts, said Tuesday at a policy lunch.

Breaux scheduled a hearing Wednesday of the Senate Special Committee on Aging to examine the financial difficulties facing Social Security and various proposals to help bolster the retirement system, including a concept favored by President Bush that would let younger workers invest a portion of their payroll taxes in the stock market.

Breaux's remarks provided the first clear indication that overhauling Social Security is not a front-burner agenda item for the White House in the new session of Congress.