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TRUTH TEST: '527' attacks O'Donnell on Social Security

KUSA - Throughout the 2006 election season, 9NEWS will hold candidatesor groupswho run negative commercials on our stationaccountable.

Sources for every assertion madein thecommercialarecited below. This "Truth Test" looks ata 30-secondcommercial paid for and authorized bya group called Too Extreme for Colorado.It attacks7th Congressional District Republican candidate Rick O'Donnell. The group is a so-called 527, named after the part of the federaltax codewhich allows it to raise and spend money outside of any campaign finance limits. Its President/Director is Denver resident Sally Chafee and its mailing address is a Denver post office box. (Source: Internal Revenue Service, http://forms.irs.gov/politicalOrgsSearch/search/gotoSearchDrillDown.action?pacId='25086'amp;criteriaName='TOO+EXTREME+FOR+COLORADO')Chafee has donated $50 to two separate Democratic candidates so far this election cycle. (Source: CO Secretary of State, http://www.sos.state.co.us/cpf/ContribCriteria.do;jsessionid=0000Ir6jvOj3tWlzRBKW5v6bMdA:10ld2d7fv)The racetorepresent Colorado's7th Congressional District is betweenO'Donnell,Democrat Ed Perlmutter and Green Party candidate Dave Chandler.TRUTH TEST: "Too Extreme"QUOTE: "Some things look good at first, but then you find out the truth is quite different. Like Rick O'Donnell on Social Security. O'Donnell wanted to eliminate Social Security. You can see it in his own words. Eliminate Social Security."TRUTH: This is true.O'Donnell wrote an article in 1995 entitled "For Freedom's Sake: Eliminate Social Security." It was published in a magazine called American Civilization which was run by Newt Gingrich. O'Donnell was an editor and in the Social Security article he wrote, "As we bury the rest of the welfare state in preparation for the 21st century, it is time to slay the largest government 'entitlement' program of all, Social Security." (Source: Denver Post, July 27, 2006)O'Donnell has since stated numerous times he wrote this essay at 24 years old before he helped his parents figure out their own Social Security benefits. Now, he "favors fixing Social Security, not abandoning it." (Source: Rocky Mountain News, July 11, 2006). His position paper on the topic on his website echoes that remark, "I will fight to fix, not eliminate, Social Security." (Source: Rick O'Donnell for Congress, http://www.rickodonnell.com/socialsecurity.php)QUOTE: "Now, O'Donnell wants to privatize Social Security, putting our guaranteed benefits at risk."TRUTH: This is false, but O'Donnell's own words led others to draw this conclusion.The Rocky Mountain News wrote this past July that O'Donnell supported "personal accounts for workers who pay into Social Security." (Source: Rocky Mountain News, 7/11/06). Those are the same words President Bush used to describe one of the ideas to reform the Social Security system when he was in Denver for a speech at the Wings Over the Rockies Museum in March 2005.At the time, the President told the crowd, "I've got an idea that I think ought to be considered. You've heard a lot about it. It's called personal savings accounts. (Applause.) It wasn't my idea. As a matter of fact, this is an idea that's a part of 401(k)s, for example. You get to set aside some of your own money, you manage it in a conservative mix of bonds and stocks. It wasn't my idea. As a matter of fact, the federal government thought of this a long time before I did, and that is federal workers ought to be allowed to take some of their own money and set it aside in a federal thrift savings plan where you can invest it in a series of bonds and stocks." (Source: White House Website, March 21, 2005 http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/03/print/20050321-13.html) However, O'Donnell differs from the President on a key point. He says he does not support diverting any payroll tax out of the Social Security system "into a private owned and operated 401(k)-type fund over which the government/the Social Security administration has little or no control." (Source, Interview with K.C. Jones, O'Donnell Campaign Manager, 9/15/06). That is what the President advocated in the Denver address when he said, "Seems like to me that 401(k)s are working. A lot of people like them. A lot of people are comfortable with them. Why don't we take that same concept about giving workers the option of taking some of their own money and investing in the market so ... they can get a better rate on their own money. It's not the government's money to begin with." (Source: White House Website, March 21, 2005 http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/03/print/20050321-13.html)It is reasonable to understand why people would hear the words "personal account" and think O'Donnell favors privatization. However exploring the issue further, he defines the phrase and hisposition as follows: "We must stop Congress from spending the Social Security surplus on other government programs. Social Security funds should be used only for Social Security - our Social Security money must be put in a personal Social Security lockbox for each of us, where we can watch it grow and the government can't spend it." (Source: Rick O'Donnell Website, http://www.rickodonnell.com/socialsecurity.html) QUOTE: "Rick O'Donnell – after you learn the truth, he's not quite what it seems."TRUTH: This is opinion, not fact.