washingtonpost.com  > Print Edition > Nation and Politics


Tuesday, April 5, 2005; Page A07

Ad Blitz to Attack Private Social Security Accounts

A new labor-backed nonprofit group announced plans yesterday to spend at least $850,000 -- and perhaps $15 million -- on television advertising attacking President Bush's plan to let workers under age 55 invest part of their Social Security taxes.

An affiliated group, Americans United to Protect Social Security, said at a luncheon briefing for reporters that it plans to raise as much as $20 million for grass-roots activities to fight the plan.

The new group -- ProtectYourCheck.org, which said it gets its money from unions and individual donors -- said it plans to begin running an ad on cable news stations late this week that calls Bush's plan an "iceberg that threatens your retirement" and that says the result would be "benefit checks cut almost in half."

That claim does not apply to current retirees because Bush said his plan would not affect the benefits of people born in 1950 or earlier. The claim refers to hypothetical checks for some future retirees under an idea that has backers in the White House but has not been proposed. A data sheet supplied by the group shows that many of these hypothetical retirees have not been born yet and are at most 5 years old, and therefore seem unlikely to be watching much CNN.

The figure refers to an estimated reduction of about 45 percent for average-income retirees born between 2000 and 2009. Under a Congressional Budget Office analysis, those retirees would have their benefits drop to about $690 a month from a scheduled $1,277 a month.

"The retirement you're earning -- taken away," the announcer says as the grim phases of three workers in hard hats fills the screen.

For the Record

• A new poll for the Houston Chronicle has found that 56 percent of those surveyed in the suburban district represented by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) said they consider him ethical, whereas 35 percent consider him unethical. However, the poll of 501 likely voters by Zogby International showed that nearly 40 percent of respondents said their opinion of DeLay is less favorable than it was last year, compared with 11 percent who said their view of him has improved. Republicans pointed out that in DeLay's 2002 reelection race, Zogby conducted a poll for his opponent, Democrat Tim Riley.

• People with criminal records and other disqualifying factors have access to explosives because the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is failing to do adequate background checks, the Justice Department's internal watchdog said yesterday. At least 655 people can continue to work for companies licensed to handle explosives even though they have criminal records or fall into one of six other prohibited categories, Justice Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said. ATF classifies its applications as pending; until clearance is complete, applicants can handle explosives.

-- Compiled from reports by staff writer Mike Allen and news services

© 2005 The Washington Post Company