The concession this week from the White House that the government will probably have to borrow money to pay for President Bush's proposal to overhaul Social Security in part by creating private accounts for younger workers has sparked a new debate on an issue that is already rife with controversy.

Forget arguing about whether Social Security needs to be reformed or what the best way to fix it is. The focus has shifted to the price tag that accompanies the president's plan -- more specifically, it's moved to those so-called "transition costs" referred to in the headlines for the past several days. Those costs refer to the shortfall that would be created by diverting some of the money used to pay Social Security benefits into those proposed private accounts. This week, at least, that gap is estimated to be somewhere between $1 trillion and $2 trillion.

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