Leading Off:

Republican House leaders, once reluctant to be out front on Social Security reform, are now aiming to have a vote later this month on a plan that would create personal retirement accounts and address the program’s solvency problems. “I see this as a first step,† House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R.-Ill.) told reporters Wednesday. “We need to solve this first step.† In recent weeks, the GOP has rallied around a plan sponsored by Sen. Jim DeMint (R.-S.C.) and Representatives Jim McCrery (R.-La.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R.-Wis.). The bill stipulates that the Social Security surplus be used only for Social Security and that the surpluses be saved in personal accounts.