Friday, June 24, 2011

AmericBlog: AARP in "full damage-control mode" after reports they support Social Security benefit cuts

And well they should be. The question is, who's lying, the AARP or the AARP?

It started with this report in the Wall Street Journal (the cached version is here):
AARP, the powerful lobbying group for older Americans, is dropping its longstanding opposition to cutting Social Security benefits, a move that could rock Washington's debate over how to revamp the nation's entitlement programs.

The decision, which AARP hasn't discussed publicly, came after a wrenching debate inside the organization. In 2005, the last time Social Security was debated, AARP led the effort to kill President George W. Bush's plan for partial privatization. AARP now has concluded that change is inevitable, and it wants to be at the table to try to minimize the pain.

"The ship was sailing. I wanted to be at the wheel when that happens," said John Rother, AARP's long-time policy chief and a prime mover behind its change of heart.
And deeper in the article, there's this:
In an early sign of its new approach, AARP declined to join a coalition of about 300 unions, women's groups and liberal advocacy organizations created to fight Social Security benefit cuts. "The coalition's role was to kind of anchor the left, and our role is going to be to actually get something done," said Mr. Rother.
Can you feel the macho thrill in that last phrase?

Well, that was so June 17th. The next day they were "hammered" for their position. Suddenly it's June 21, and according to Politico, the AARP sun now rises in the west:
The phones rang in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office just hours after news reports surfaced late last week, asserting that the powerful seniors lobby, AARP, is open to cuts in Social Security benefits.

It was AARP calling — in full damage-control mode — assuring Reid’s office that nothing had changed and that the group remains fully dedicated to protecting Social Security. Hours later, the group issued a statement from its CEO to members of Congress, disputing the reports as “misleading” and saying that the entitlement program should not be used as a “piggy bank” to solve the nation’s fiscal woes.
They have always been at war with Eastasia.

Not much to add to this report. Note the nondenial — the Journal piece was not wrong, but "misleading". Of course it was; it mislead people toward the actual positions held by the AARP leadership. Bummer that.

The AARP has looked like a suspect organization ever since supporting Bush II's drug "benefit" plan. The AP in 2003:
AARP threw the weight of its 35 million members behind a planned Medicare prescription drug benefit on Monday, handing Republicans a pivotal endorsement as they fight Democratic critics.
And they have not been covered in glory since (see Jon Walker's walk through the history of AARP and SS benefit cuts for more).

As someone suggested (sorry, forgot who), it would be wonderfully fitting if the Boomer generation, which cut its teeth burning draft cards, would cap its last years burning AARP cards.

For those who are action-oriented, here's the mailing address from their contact page. Be firm but polite; and the more you show effort, the more effect you have, so handwritten wins over MS Word, and so on.
601 E Street, NW
Washington DC 20049
(Oh, and it's easier to mail torn card than burnt ones — in case you trend that way.)


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