SAN DIEGO-U.S. News & World Report Editor-At-Large David Gergen told more than 800 attendees at TD Waterhouse's Partnership Coference this morning that he estimated President George Bush's plan to privatize Social Security had less than a 50% of getting enacted.
   While acknowledging that Bush was as bold and ambitious as any president in modern times, Gergen questioned whether Bush could obtain the 60 Senate votes necessary to make Social Security personal accounts a reality.
   Among Democrats, only Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska has indicated a willingness to work with the president on overhauling Social Security, while 43 Democratic senators have said they will not vote for Bush's plan. Additionally, Gergen-who has been an advisor to four presidents, including Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton-said that some Republicans, such as Olympia Snowe of Maine, have voiced deep doubts about the program.
   Gergen said the complexity of the program reminded him of the ill-fated Clinton proposal in 1993 and 1994 to overhaul health insurance.
He said when a program "requires 1,900 new regulations" it's frequently dead on arrival.
   Ironically, Gergen thinks that if President Bush's Social Security plan fails it will make it easier to make the tax cuts enacted in his first term permanent.

-Evan Simonoff