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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Fact -- A rigged calculator


Democrats have been using a web-based "calculator" to generate individualized answers to the question, "How much will you lose under Bush privatization plan?" For young, low-wage workers it projects cuts of up to 50% in benefits. And a $1-million TV advertising campaign is amplifying the claim, saying, "Look below the surface (of Bush's plan) and you'll find benefit checks cut almost in half."

In fact, the calculator is rigged. We find it is based on a number of false assumptions and deceptive comparisons. For one thing, it assumes that stocks will yield average returns of only 3 percent per year above inflation. The historical average is close to 7 percent.

The calculator's authors claim that they use the same assumption used by the Congressional Budget Office. Actually, CBO projects a 6.8 percent gain.