'Ownership' Key Soc. Sec. Goal -Greenspan

  WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan embraced President Bush 's vision of an "ownership society" on Thursday, saying private Social Security (news - web sites) accounts could foster feelings of wealth among poor Americans.

  In a second straight day of congressional testimony, the influential Fed chief argued a personal accounts-based system would be less likely to face the type of fiscal crunch retiring baby boomers pose to the current pay-as-you-go program.

  While he did not specifically endorse Bush's plan and admitted private accounts, in and of themselves, would not improve Social Security's shaky finances, he said such accounts could importantly create "a sense of ownership."

  "These accounts, properly constructed and managed, will create ... a sense of increased wealth on the part of middle and lower-income classes of this society, who have had to struggle with very little capital," Greenspan told the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee.

  "While they do have a claim against the Social Security system ... as best I can judge, they don't feel it is personal wealth the way they would with personal accounts," he said as he took questions from the panel.

  Greenspan went before the committee to discuss the Fed's semiannual economic report, but Bush's politically contentious proposal to create private accounts quickly became the hearing's focus.