NU Online News Service, March 24, 2004, 12:29 p.m. EST – A liberal think tank says the Bush administration is trying to promote privatization efforts by exaggerating the size of the problems facing the Medicare and Social Security trust funds.[@@]

Administration officials warned Tuesday that the trust funds will face a combined shortfall of about $50 trillion over an “infinite time horizon.”

Officials also argued that the date when the Medicare hospital insurance trust fund could run dry might arrive as early as 2019. A year earlier, officials predicted the fund would be insolvent in 2026.

Campaign for America’s Future, Washington, a group with ties to the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, says administration officials skewed Social Security and Medicare trust fund projections by calculating the numbers over an “infinite horizon,” rather than simply looking 10 years, 20 years or 30 years into the future.

Trying to predict what the world will be like many decades in the future has more to do with science fiction than with hard-headed policy analysis, Campaign for America’s Future argues.

The administration’s own figures suggest that privatization efforts could end up increasing program expenses, the group adds.