WASHINGTON — Flanked by a former banker and a former Senator, President Bush formally unveiled a 16-member commission Wednesday that will push his plan to let Americans privately invest a portion of their Social Security taxes.

“Today young workers who pay into Social Security might as well be saving their money in their mattresses,” President Bush said at a Rose Garden ceremony. “That’s how low the return is on their contributions.”

His plan — which the commission will fine-tune and then sell to lawmakers for what the White House hopes will be legislative action next year — calls for the creation of “personal savings accounts” for younger Americans. The panel plans to announce by fall such specifics as the maximum age for eligibility and limits on how much could be invested through the accounts, a White House spokesman said.

The President said personal savings accounts “will transform Social Security from a government IOU into personal property and real assets, property that workers will own in their own names and they can pass along to their children.”

He introduced the co-chairmen of the commission — former New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat, and Richard D. Parsons, a Republican and the former chairman and chief executive officer of Dime Bancorp who is now co-chief operating officer of AOL Time Warner Inc.

Other commission members include Fidel Vargas, vice president of Reliant Equity Investors and the former Democratic mayor of Baldwin Park, Calif., and Olivia Mitchell, a professor of insurance and risk management at the University of Pennsylvania.

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