Most people who support Bush's plan are simply ignorant of the facts, as usual.
A majority supports the president's proposal to allow Americans to invest part of their Social Security contributions in stocks or bonds, although opinions on this and other aspects of the president's plan frequently are weakly held and easily moved.
For example, Jerry Traylor, 58, a retired government worker who lives in Newell, Ala., said he supports Bush's proposal for personal accounts, asserting that "a person would have more interest in their own money and their future in retirement if they could invest in stocks."
But like nearly half of those surveyed, Traylor wrongly believed that the costs of creating personal accounts would be negligible. Told that the Bush administration estimates the government initially would have to borrow more than $700 billion to set up such a system, he was incredulous. "That seems very excessive," Traylor said. "I would be less inclined to favor it if it costs that much. That much money could serve a lot of good purposes."
That cost estimate proved to be the most effective of four arguments against Bush's proposal tested in the polls. While 56 percent said they support a plan for individual investment accounts, more than half of those said they would be less likely to do so after hearing the estimate. More than four in 10 supporters wavered when they heard that personal accounts would not, by themselves, reduce the financial problems facing Social Security.
Those opposed to Bush's plan were consistently more resistant to changing their view -- about one in four did -- when confronted with four arguments supporting his proposal.
Taken together, the polls found that the debate over Social Security reflects the sharp divisions of the presidential campaign, and that Bush enters the fight without a clear mandate on the issue. The surveys also found serious misunderstandings about Social Security that could be exploited by either side to shape opinion as the debate evolves.
Facts vs. beliefs
Americans badly underestimate the share of the federal budget spent on Social Security, and most incorrectly believe that retirees, on average, receive less in benefits than they contributed to the system. And about half of those who support the president's plan incorrectly believe it would protect people from losing retirement money they invested from their personal account.http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6942871/