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O'Neill's plan envisions future generations of millionaires

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill believes that future generations of Americans all could retire as millionaires if the federal government followed this plan:

_Upon each child's birth, the government opens an investment savings account in his or her name and puts $2,000 into it. Every year afterward until the child turns 18 the government puts another $2,000 into the account. The money then would be left to grow at a compounded rate until the individual reaches the retirement age of 65.

_Assuming a 6 percent continuously compounding rate of return over 65 years, money in the account would exceed $1 million. There'd be no lump-sum payment; the money would be put into a 20-year annuity paying about $82,000 a year.

_Assuming 4 million births annually, O'Neill estimates it would cost about $144 billion to fund accounts for each year's babies for 18 years.

_After 65 years, this would eliminate any need for Social Security since all Americans would retire rich. His plan doesn't address funding the system's current projected shortfalls.

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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