AARP, the advocacy group for people over age 50, has come out swinging in the fight over Social Security reform with the release of a poll showing a lack of support for President Bush's plan to allow investors to divert some of their Social Security taxes into private accounts.

According to a survey of 1,500 adults ages 30 and over conducted for AARP by Roper Public Affairs, 60 percent believe that private accounts would hurt Social Security.

While 43 percent initially supported the concept of diverting payroll contributions to fund private accounts, barely a quarter continued to support private accounts if it meant a lower Social Security benefit in retirement, according to poll results. The estimated $1 trillion in additional debt needed to pay Social Security benefits to current beneficiaries reduced support to 18 percent of respondents, while AARP said that leaving responsibility for this debt and for Social Security's current estimated shortfall to our children reduced support to 17 percent.

According to the AARP poll, more than two-thirds of people under age 50 aren't confident that Social Security will be there for them, while the majority of all those polled (83 percent), agreed that Social Security should be strengthened rather than replaced.

Two-thirds (66 percent) of Americans age 30 and above support keeping Social Security as is, including six in 10 (62 percent) of Gen Xers ages 30 to 39. A similar number of leading-edge Baby Boomers ages 50 to 59 (65 percent) and a clear majority (57 percent) of Boomers ages 40 to 49 agreed, according to the poll.

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