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AARP, GOP Battle Over Private Accounts

From Associated Press

In a sign of the intensifying political battle over Social Security, the AARP released a nationwide poll Monday indicating deep public skepticism about President Bush’s plan for personal accounts.

“Approximately four in 10 respondents initially favored private accounts,” the 35-million-member seniors’ organization said in a summary of its findings. “However, those who initially favored private accounts dropped off substantially once they were exposed to any of the consequences associated with implementation of private accounts.”

In a two-page rebuttal, the Republican Party said the AARP’s survey relied on slanted wording, misleading questions and an unrepresentative sample of the nation as a whole to come up with its findings.

AARP research director Jeff Love, said the poll “adheres to the highest standards of public polling.” The organization opposes Bush’s proposal.

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Bush has called on Congress to enact legislation that will put Social Security on a stronger financial footing and include personal accounts as part of the measure. The Bush plan may give future retirees lower benefits than are now promised.

The Republican National Committee is heavily involved in the battle to shape public opinion on the issue, which Bush has placed atop his domestic legislative agenda.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada and other critics argue that Bush’s overall proposals would jeopardize the future of Social Security.

“This is no crisis, so why should we be lurching forward?” Reid said.


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