AARP Back in Bed With Effort to Cut Social Security and Medicare

Wow, the AARP must be taking lessons from the Democratic Party, that you can afford sell out your putative base if you do the bidding of really big moneyed interests.

In case you missed this saga (it wasn’t one we posted on till now) in June last year, AARP’s board approved supporting Social Security cuts. That followed a multi million dollar ad campaign against the very same stance. They planned to sell the future of old people living off dog food to the membership via a series of town hall meetings.

The backlash from the membership led to the purge of the policy chief John Rother, who was made a scapegoat.

The latest development, reported in the Huffington Post, shows the housecleaning didn’t go far enough. AARP members need to demand resignation of all directors who are behind this scheme, which is probably all of them. Protests at their homes might be necessary to rein in an board which is so insistently defying its members wishes and interests.

And to add insult to injury, the AARP plans a “listening tour” which is of course not at all about listening but selling a “Grand Bargain” which is more Newspeak, in this case the idea of a budget deal that includes retirement program cuts. The Huffington Post does a great job of exposing how the leadership of the AARP is flat out lying to its members about its conduct:

An AARP invitation to a secret “Relaxed and Robust Evening of ‘Salon Style’ Conversation” to be held at a Capitol Hill home on March 27, obtained by The Huffington Post, indicates that the organization is still very much interested in a “grand-bargain” style deal that puts Social Security and Medicare cuts on the table…

The list of invitees to the salon event includes a gallery of powerful Washington establishment figures who are on record favoring cuts to Social Security and Medicare. The only firm opponent of Social Security or Medicare benefit cuts on the list, the Economic Policy Institute’s Larry Mishel, said he wasn’t planning to go and wasn’t sure why he was listed as a featured guest. (AARP also responded to the request for comment by inviting HuffPost to attend the off-the-record gathering, an offer we plan to accept.)

Other listed invitees included business leaders and deficit hawks who have long argued for the cuts, including Tom Donohue of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, John Engler of the Business Roundtable group for corporate CEOs, and David Walker, a noted deficit alarmist and former head of the Government Accountability Office.

Yet the AARP wants its members to believe this sort of tripe:

“AARP is not pursuing any closed door deals or grand bargains,” said an AARP spokeswoman. “Our main focus is hearing from our members, and all Americans, what they think about ways to strengthen Social Security and Medicare. That’s precisely why we’re launching ‘You’ve Earned a Say.’ We are interested in hearing from all sides and having civil discourse on these issues.”

This isn’t even a good con. The AARP has no business “hearing from all sides.” Its mission is to represent its members, and they’ve made it clear they have no interest in having their benefits cut. Indeed, having the AARP stand firm would serve to put focus on the right issues which is that the real problem is Medicare, not Social Security, and the problem with Medicare is a broad social problem, that health care costs have and continue to rise much faster than inflation. Determined pushback from seniors and other parties could put focus on the real issue and serve as an important counterweight to the health care lobby.

The HuffPo article points out the fallacy of the leadership’s turncoat logic:

“They want to be at the table when a deal is cut,” said one person who declined to be named because he continues to work closely with AARP. The irony is that while AARP’s legislative team may be convinced that a deal is inevitable, a grand bargain actively opposed by AARP would be effectively impossible for Congress to pass.

If you are a member of the AAPR or have relatives who are members, send this article on and tell them to call or write and tell the organization that you aren’t standing for this. Nor should you. You are about to be sold out by incompetent lobbyists unless you make a stink. You can also join the campaign at Firedoglake to cancel the event.

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  1. Lambert Strether

    The beauty part is that Ezra Klein’s name is on the 2012 invitation, but he says he never got one, and as the 2011 one, “he said he had briefly attended a previous AARP event, but couldn’t recall the theme.”

    Snort. Also, “robust” is one of those words that nobody but DC insiders and pointy-haired managers use. It’s a complete tell. And, oh yeah, Andy Stern.

    1. Dirk77

      Lambert, this is a little off topic, but you appear to be living amongst the Beltway Cult, so I’ll ask. I was listening to NPR in a cab a few years ago in DC. (From my limited experience, NPR DC is very Establishment.) The guy was saying that the health welfare bill was passed and part of its intent was to fund research into why the rate of increase of medical costs was so high. I was dumbfounded by that. Health care has been rising like that for years and you’ve got a town where 1/3 of the people are analysts and you still can’t figure it out? Yet in spite of that you have the gall to try to reform it anyways? Do you have any insight into this?

      (Thanks Hugh and Otto below about the nature of the AARP.)

      1. Pokey

        The reason is obvious to anyone with eyes, $5,000 a day for an ICU room for the breathing dead. Part of the solution is medical ethics review of costs and procedures.

        That’s right, a death panel, but not government.

        1. Dirk77

          If I understand you right, you are saying that some analysis could not be done until there was given explicit authorization in the reform bill? That is, the research was regarded as too hot politically to be done without some explicit consensus? Interesting. Thanks.

      2. Carla

        @Dirk77: NPR is very establishment in Cleveland, too. WCPN, 90.3 FM. Smarter people than the “major networks” maybe, but not very often better ideas. Mostly in-depth coverage of lousy ideas and crappy policy often referred to as “progressive.” There are exceptions now and then, but there is really nothing “public” about “public radio.”

        1. Dirk77

          Carla, I don’t have much direct experience with NPR myself, but I think it does vary. I was in LA last fall and the local station (Pasadena CC) seemed to have Bill Black talking about mortgage fraud every time I turned the car radio on. Just a fluke maybe?

      3. Thorstein

        We already *have* the “death panel” solution. It’s called private health insurance: Death forestalled in proportion to ability to pay. The free market is God and determines life and death.

        1. tar, etc.

          Private health insurance is a death panel. And if you can no longer pay for useless insurance that doesn’t provide care and drop it, providers can charge you anything they want. They don’t charge the uninsured for actual cost of care, but a mythical number to punish you for not paying the racketeers.

  2. LucyLulu

    Yves wrote: “Indeed, having the AARP stand firm would serve to put focus on the right issues which is that the real problem is Medicare, not Social Security, and the problem with Medicare is a broad social problem, that health care costs have and continue to rise much faster than inflation.”

    Yep. What government spending program besides social security is fully funded for the next 25 years (and then at 80%)? The trust fund is not empty. When the money was borrowed, interest bearing bonds were exchanged. Some Congress members would like to pretend are Monopoly money. Are they equally willing to pretend with the special bonds in their G-fund pension investments? SS is not an “entitlement”, it has been fully paid for. The average SS recipient receives 100% of what they paid into the system, nothing more. The reality is that payroll taxes (when they have not been cut) provide revenues that approximate those of income taxes (corporate taxes have become increasingly insignificant). Congress wants those payroll taxes so they can continue funding their wars and tax cuts for the 0.1%.

    Then some members, often the same ones, try to pretend that shifting the cost of medical expenses from Medicare to private plans paid for by the elderly is a solution to what will soon be unsustainable healthcare costs. Medicare has consistently run at 3% overhead for administrative costs, while private insurers have received an extension for being unable to limit their overhead to 15-20%, assuming that private insurers will even be willing to insure high risk individuals. Has anybody who suffers chronic conditions and requires daily medications ever attempted to obtain a policy outside of a employer-sponsored group plan? What alternate universe do these policy makers live in?

    Obama has always supported cuts to SS and Medicare. So, no matter who wins the election, this will be a done deal in the presidential term unless people make their voices heard loud and clear. We need to let them know that what little social safety net we have is non-negotiable.

    1. scott

      I was in a hospital a year ago overhearing a heart surgeon telling a couple that their father (~75), who had an octouple-bypass a year earlier needed 4 more stents. Of course, the patient was so weak and kidneys ruined from the previous surgery, so they couldn’t operate right away. Of course, the couple wanted surgery because they weren’t paying for it.

      I figure $1 million was spent keeping this patient alive, with no quality of life (bedsores, anyone), for an additional year. This money could have put 20 kids through college. The entitlement mentality is that since they contributed 1% of their salary for 40 years, no expense can be spared.

      We need a mechanism where the aged can choose to forgo expensive procedures/treatments of little value in exchange for assistance (e.g. educational) for their heirs. I see such an incentive plan the only way to avoid death panels.

      1. billwilson

        Here is the funny thing. Medical care in countries where patients don’t have to pay the direct costs (say Canada or the Uk or … any other civilized country) are less than in the US . Go figure. The brilliant US system has the highest costs and the worse outcomes. A single payer system would be a vast improvement and a key reform to make the economy more efficient.

        1. LeeAnne

          When thinking about a loved one who is in danger of death, money is the last thing in mind -except for the vultures of course.

      2. Ep3

        I have a client who was given 6 months to live with brain and lung cancer, and he’s having cataract surgery because “his eyes are starting to show the beginnings of cataracts”. The doctors actually said that foregoing chemo and radiation might actually make his last 6 months better. But, at the same time, he thinks he’s important (I am a special american who deserves to survive) and its costing $150k a month for treatment, all Medicare. So they are pushing forward.

      3. LucyLulu

        Ultimately there will most likely need to be some choices made in regards to rationing of care. And as a nurse, I can attest that there is plenty of wasteful care given today due to our entitlement mentality. I would put lifesaving care in that category only as a last resort, but care that is perceived as more convenient, newer, technologically superior, or due to unwillingness to take a wait and see approach could certainly be considered. Private insurance could be purchases as supplemental coverage if folks wanted more bells and whistles, as is available in France and the UK. However costs have considerable room for containment before we need to look at rationing. Healthcare per capita in the US (~$7500 in 2008) is 50% higher than Norway, which has the second most expensive healthcare in the world, and double that of the average 15 OECD nations with comparable per capita income levels. Most Americans don’t realize that they are already having their healthcare rationed by their insurance providers. Treating physicians typically don’t prescribe treatments that they know are likely not covered.

        1. Middle Seaman

          Every large system has a certain amout of waste and disorder, Medicare cannot and shouldn’t be an exception. Today Medicare is way more efficient than the cruel, inhumane, wasteful, arbitrary and very expensive private health insurance. Just because we decided to spend our money on killing Afghanistanis doesn’t mean that Medicare should be cut.

          Before rationing, making choices on who “doesn’t deserve” medical care, we should remember that “primitive” countries such as Germany and Sweden pay half of what we pay for health care with much better results. Let’s get to European type health care and only then talk about rationing.

      4. CB

        I have a so-called living will that clearly instructs DNR, Do Not Revive, and ends with “If I’m on my way out, get out of my way.” I think dying is part of living and anyone who has a thought about how s/he wants to get thru the last of h/is life ought to write it out and distribute the instructions to any and all who might be involved. (Including your dentist, BTW.)

        So, Scott, how about it? Got your last days instructions on paper and in the hands of potentially interested parties? Have you even thought about what you want when it’s your turn? It’s not nearly enough to deny others.

      5. Jean

        @scott 8:04 a.m.
        To assume that your hospital eavesdropping has actually resulted in any meaningful conclusions is a stretch, to be overly generous.

        Nonetheless, the belief that the terminally ill elderly and their families make decisions to undergo pointless treatment at very high cost is patently false. They do exist, but they are by far the exception, not the rule.

        That said, your suggestion that the $$$ spent would be better diverted to education fails to recognize the FACT that medical education is served by Medicare. Those types of services, in a tertiary hospital, are an educational opportunity for nursing and medical students, postgrad trainees, building their own skills, refining procedures, and preparing them to better treat you, your parents, your children.

      6. Kakko

        I have heard of similar stories.
        There are 3 important issues here.
        1) If the system pays $1million “on behalf of patients”, it will go bankrupt unable to fund anybody.

        2) If the costs were only $1hundred, would anybody complain?

        3) Uninsured procedures (mostly cosmetic) by definitino paid out of pockethave generally come down in price over the years.

        Those 3 issues put together, perhaps what we have here is a “credit bubble” in the health care industry. No matter what policies happen, prices will come down. The only question is whether they’ll come down with a crashed system or by improved policies?

      7. Paul

        “we need a mechanism where the old can choose….”

        We need to get rid of private, for-profit health insurance.
        The country should self-insure, increase the member pool to include everyone from cradle to grave.

        That’s how you deal with costs. To get caught up with a techical analysis is to miss the big picture of how we are getting screwed.

    2. Susan the other

      There has been the speculation, ever since LBJ pushed Medicare through in the 60s, that its real purpose was not to attend to the health care needs of seniors, but yo pay for,( the money always being taken, used and replaced with treasuries) war and shadow wars. That makes sense especially in view of the fact that inflation in health care costs is never acknowledged beyond an occasional vacuous speech on the Senate floor.

      1. Binky bear

        The secret wars are paid for with illegal drug importation, organized crime run by cut-outs for intelligence agencies, and accounting shenanigans in Pentagon defense procurement contracts. This has been pretty well known since the 1970s (Church Commission) and a recipe for success that has been repeated as needed since the OSS first collaborated with the mob in WWII.
        Medical costs are going up for the simple reason that it is a flawed market as Ken Arrow laid out in his classic article.

  3. Middle Seaman

    Have no idea what Czar Stern or scribe Klein have to do with the organization I and my fellow older citizens belong to and own and their selling me down the river.

    Clearly, the latest foreclosure betrayal agreement and the AARP attempts to cut SS attempt by the 1% to fire the 99%; just get rid of us. As ridiculous as it appears, we seem to be redundant.

    1. Carla

      Oh, no, we’re not redundant. They need serfs. And they are going about creating serfs. You’ve got the 1%, the next 9% who happily and eagerly do their bidding, and the rest of us, who are destined, generation after generation, for serfdom.

      Unless we stand up. NOW.

      Whether you think you’re a Tea Partier, an Occupier, or a Grandmother, better get out there.

  4. psychohistorian

    So instead of a country by and for the people we have one by and for the global inherited rich.

    They have convinced organizations like AARP that their members must gladly socialize the losses of the banks by taking cuts in paid for insurance programs like SS. The big lie technique works well for those in control.

    1. Justicia

      Yep. If you’ve any doubts see the current issue of Harper’s magazine:

      “It;s a Rich Man’s World. How Billionaire Backers Pick America’s Candidates” by Thomas Frank

  5. Rex

    I have been an AARP member earlier than most — since I was eligible at age 50. It seemed to be one of the few organizations actually working for its members interests as a prime goal.

    I just sent them an email explaining that if they cave on any concessions about SS, I will drop my membership and spread the word to people I know.

    [Is there any organization with integrity and principles these days?]

    1. CB

      Good question. I await the answers. I do believe there are some very good and usually small and local organizations that can be trusted. But you have to participate to keep a watchful eye because even the best can go off the rails with bad leadership and/or a determined clique.

    2. Nalu Girl

      I have consistently refused to join ever since they threw seniors under the bus by supporting bush’s “donut hole” plan. they have finally stopped mailing me except for solicitations to jn their insurance scam, er plan. Hmm, might there be ad connection?

    3. Stufmp

      To answer your parenthetical, I haven’t seen the ACLU cave on anything. (I am just as skeptical about our institutions as you are, and if someone knows of the ACLU caving on something, please inform me.)

  6. Richard Wilson

    In addition, big private insurance companies pay AARP to oppose single-payer health insurance.

    AARP is like any modern union. It works for the oppressors while pretending to work for the oppressed. The elitist lords pay the union to keep chanting, over and over, “You must keep accepting less and less, or you will have nothing at all, since the company will be destroyed.”

    Put another way, “The closer you move toward zero pay, the farther you move away from it.” If you say this is absurd, then you just “don’t understand business.”

  7. Bruce Krasting

    I read a lot of Yves and I can’t figure out her politics. In this article she sounds like a socialist. Defending poor old SS from the evil AARP.

    If one was a socialist and cared about older people who need a safty net, I would think that person should be jumping on the bandwagon of reforming SS, not the other way around.

    In a few months we will get the next report from SS. This should be a defining point; the results will show that SS is in terminal decline.

    Folks who believe that SS is an important safety net have to recognize that there ain’t enough money to go around.

    Those who cry, “No changes at SS” are not supporting the ideals they think they are. They will end up hurting those who need the safety net. Not a very social position at all.

    1. YankeeFrank

      Sorry Bruce but you are misinformed (I am being polite). Social security is sound for another decade or two with no changes, and with a modest increase in the cap (I propose removing the cap so the 1% can actually start giving something back) it is sound for a long time to come. If you are making the argument that social security is not funding itself currently, that would be due to the payroll tax cut “stimulus” we have been experiencing due to the bankster-caused depression we are in. Frankly, social security shouldn’t have to be independently funded at all. It is a priority of the nation. And this is really all about priorities.

      When you say there is not enough money to go around, you are just saying that you don’t like taxpayer money being used for this purpose. I disagree. And so do well more than half of the American people. I’m not sure where you are from, but this country is still, at least nominally, a democracy. We always have enough money for “carried-interest” earning billionaires to pay a 15% tax rate; and there is always enough to bail out bankster criminal thugs. Oh, there is also enough to fund a preposterous military industrial garbage-barge of death.

      But there just isn’t enough to guarantee that the elderly live their final years with a bit of dignity, and to die in something other than abject poverty and disease. Right.

      You play the part of the sober-minded truth-teller. Stuff it. Your confusion at Yves’ politics is foolishness. The AARP, like much of our country, has rotted from the inside out. It no longer represents the people it purports to. It is corrupt. Is corruption a left/right issue? And one needn’t be a flaming commie in order to support a social safety net for the elderly.

      The idea that we cannot afford to take care of the vulnerable citizens in our society is simply nonsense. You believe you are telling us the hard truth. Its funny actually — you don’t think anyone’s winding you up but what you are is a wind up toy for the plutocratic class that wobbles around telling the “little” people to get in their place so the state can get on with the much more important business of corporate and police state domination, warmongering, high finance manipulation, debt enslavement and neo-feudalism. Blow me.

      1. curlydan

        I wouldn’t even remove the cap. Just increase it at twice the rate of inflation for a few years.

      2. F. Beard

        Frankly, social security shouldn’t have to be independently funded at all. YankeeFrank

        Correct. Anyone who has worked in the US a certain amount should be entitled to a workman’s pension. The FICA Tax should be abolished so we can end the fiction that workers need to fund their own retirement.

        It is a priority of the nation. And this is really all about priorities. YankeeFrank

        And apart from spending on counterproductive wars why does the US Federal Government gift the banks and other rentiers with usury for a money supply that only it should be able to create?

      3. rps

        Bravo! YankeeFrank. Your excellent post is reminiscent of another succinct writer. to quote Frank Capra’s character George Bailey,

        “Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you’re talking about… they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn’t think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they’re cattle. Well in my book, my father died a much richer man than you’ll ever be!”

      4. Bruce Krasting

        You say I’m misinformed? I think it is you. You say:

        If you are making the argument that social security is not funding itself currently, that would be due to the payroll tax cut “stimulus” we have been experiencing due to the bankster-caused depression we are in.

        SS is completely insulated from any consequence resulting from the payroll tax cut. Every month Treasury pays an amount equal to the shortfall. Want proof? I’ll publish it for ya.

        Ouside of any consequence from the PR deduction, SS is running in the red. It was $49b in 2010 and $47b in 2011. Not only is DI in the red, OASI went into the red for the first time in 2011.

        You say SS is solvent for the next 10 years. You’re right. But after that it is a trainwreck.

        You want to ignore this until it does blow up in a decade? How shortsighted is that?

        Again, if you follow the “do nothing plan” it will end up hurting the folks on the bottom end of the spectrum. Do you really want that?

        1. F. Beard

          You ignore that the Federal Government is NOT funded by taxes; Federal taxes are a price inflation control device among other things. And if you claim there is price inflation now I agree but that is caused by food and energy speculation with cheap credit, I would bet.

          You need to learn some MMT. A money issuer is fundamentally different from a money user.

          1. Carla

            “A money issuer is fundamentally different from a money user.”

            Yes, all of us USE money but only a elite few can ISSUE it.

            Thanks again.

        2. YankeeFrank

          Okay, so its fully funded for the next 10 years, but had a roughly $50 billion shortfall each year for the last couple years… so which is it dude?

          For every “projection” you show me I can show you one where we easily fund ss with modest raises in the caps… and mine come from actual disinterested economic analysis, not from right wing puke tanks.

          This is not to mention that we could effortlessly pick up hundreds of billions per year, even trillions, taxing the plutocrats and cutting war spending (both of which would boost our economy massively by ending wars that sap our wealth and plutocratic “investments” that destroy jobs and cause commodity inflation).

          But if you insist on ss being “budget-neutral”, which is a vicious priority in the first place (warfare, billionaire welfare, etc., of course do not have to be “budget neutral”), from what I’ve seen its medicare that has the problem and not ss. Your sources are highly suspect Brucey. Where are you getting your data? The Peterson Foundation? The Heritage Douchery? The Koch Industries Compassion Fund?

          Regardless, you avoided MOST of my points and insist on puffing on about solvency blah blah blah. Color me unimpressed, and I still maintain you are a wind up toy for the plutocracy pushing their propaganda. What’s so sick about them and yourself is that there is really no sane reason to starve and strip old people from their hovels other than the fear among the wealthy of the dreaded inflation — you know Bruce, the most horrifying thing since the devil himself (if you’re a plutocrat or a hoarding rich douchebag whose worst fear is a devaluing of one’s “assets”). For many the worse fear is hundreds of thousands or millions of elderly Americans eating garbage out of dumpsters in rags and living in cardboard boxes. But for people like you its “god forbid my assets”!!! And the funny and sad thing is you don’t really have a solid grasp on economics, nor what actually causes monetary inflation, but are so whipped up in fear over it that you can’t think rationally on the subject and insist on clamping down on anything you perceive might at some future date cause a jump in monetary inflation. Of course you’re all wrong, on everything really, but you’ll never admit it, and even more amazing, you’ll never even know.

          Oh and back to medicare for a minute — its cheaper than any private “insurance” by around 30%, at least. So unless your plan is to strip the vast majority of Americans of their right to healthcare, we’d better be expanding medicare and dropping all that “free market” gobbledygook you and your troll buddies are peddling. But of course that is your preferred plan, denying them healthcare I mean. They’re poor for chrissakes — they don’t deserve healthcare (and should be shot into the face of the sun for good measure!).

          Again, its about priorities, and all your scare stories about how ss is going to “blow up” in ten years just don’t wash, and at least on this one issue the people are holding firm. I think its because deep down even the most ignorant and fearful of them know they are being heavily swindled and robbed, and on this one issue they are saying no! The dignity and well-being of our elderly is sacrosanct, and all your financial hocus pocus can shift. We ain’t picking up what you’re putting down.

          1. rps

            Brilliant, with the resounding whack up the side of the head.

            I am reminded of Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man. To paraphrase Ellison,

            “Everywhere I’ve turned somebody has wanted to sacrifice me for my good—only ‘they’ were the ones who benefited. And now we start on the old sacrificial merry-go-round. At what point do we stop? Is this the new true definition, is Government a matter of sacrificing the weak? If so, at what point do we stop?

            I wonder if Bruce is reeling in his alternate reality?

          2. rps

            Krasting’s background is interesting, “I worked for Drexel and got to understand a bit about balance sheet structure and corporate bonds from Mike Milken.”

            Mike Milken as in the Junk Bond King convicted for securities fraud and banned for life from the securities industry, when the SEC had more Bite than bark? In 1990 Drexel Burnham Lambert came to the government with its’ hat in hand asking for a bailout. What is that called, socialized losses, privatized profits? Fortunately, Nick Brady was the Secretary of Treasury and had never forgotten Drexel’s role of screwing Unocal. He told Drexel to “go fish.” The rest is history with Drexel going belly up. Time magazine aptly named Drexel’s business ethics, “Predator’s Fall”

    2. Amateur Socialist

      Yeah Bruce the guise of the sober minded truth teller got dinged quite a bit when Dale Coberly and Bruce Webb tried to school ya in these topics on Angry Bear.

      Still among the willfully ignorant I see. More’s the pity.

    3. F. Beard

      Folks who believe that SS is an important safety net have to recognize that there ain’t enough money to go around. Bruce Krasting

      The US Government neither has nor does not have money. It creates the stuff as it spends it. It CANNOT run out. The only economic constraint is price inflation in that money should the government spend too much.

      You should ask yourself why the US always has enough money to pay for stupid wars? And why it always has enough money to rent its own money supply from the banks and other usurers when the debt of a monetarily sovereign nation is ITSELF a form of money and even more inflationary than pure money printing would be since the debt requires interest to be paid?

      You should also ask yourself what the source of poverty in the US is? Could it be a government enforced/backed counterfeiting and usury cartel that steals purchasing power from everyone including and especially the poor?

      1. Carla

        “You should also ask yourself what the source of poverty in the US is? Could it be a government enforced/backed counterfeiting and usury cartel that steals purchasing power from everyone including and especially the poor?”

        Could this possibly be? In the U.S. of A.?

        1. F. Beard

          Could this possibly be? In the U.S. of A.? Carla

          Yes and by design. The National Debt (absurd for a monetarily sovereign government) was promoted by Alexander Hamilton to bribe the rich to support the fledgling US Government.

  8. LeeAnne

    genius: “Determined pushback from seniors and other parties could put focus on the real issue and serve as an important counterweigh+t to the health care lobby.”

    Members should demonstrate with the OWS against this travesty to demand that AARP be THE LOBBYIST for the elderly they claim to be.

    That’s how the AARP represents themselves in all of their advertising/propaganda to the 50+ crowd.

    1. Carla

      Uhm, how can I put this politely? The AARP lies.

      They are, and always have been, an arm of the insurance industry.

  9. Justicia

    A question for Yves on another topic — Pay Pal. They suspended my account because I didn’t agree to their electronic notice requirement. Is there any other way to keep contributing to NC?

    1. ambrit

      Dear Justica;
      Yes, there is. Do what my wife and I do, and send a check or money order to Aurora Advisors. Dinosaur tech does indeed work, even a caveman can do it.

      1. CB

        Aurora Advisors Incorporated
        903 Park Avenue, 8th Floor
        New York, NY 10021

        Be sure to note what your check is for.

  10. ambrit

    Is this ‘intimate get together’ a one of, or do they plan a true ‘Town Hall Meeting’ tour? My wife, who is Medicare enabled would like to attend the nearest ‘meeting’ if possible in person. (I didn’t comprehend the depth of her disgust until I showed her this post. Four letter words!)

  11. Norman

    ARRP is an insurance co. They also endorse many products, for a fee of course. I belonged for “1” year back in the 80’s, found out then that they were a self serving bunch, didn’t care about seniors, (they let you become a member @ 55), but they bombard your inbox/postal mailbox, with more garbage then the garbage company can pick up, as they also get their cut from the sales, (higher prices), so ARRP isn’t any friend of seniors, never has been and never will be.

    1. CB

      Is AARP still tax exempt? Years ago, Alan Simpson threatened that exemption when AARP got a little feisty over some issue then Senator Simpson was involved with. AARP backed away and pretty much folded its public advocacy thereafter.

        1. CB

          I would say tax exemptions and venality. Dunno about the churches but it’s an excellent question.

      1. Susan the other

        I was remembering that too. AARP is a business, clearly. And a crappy one. It should never have a tax exemption at all. But it is, as it turns out, very useful to the goals of our government.

    2. Westcoastliberal

      Exactly my experience, Norman. They’re glorified insurance brokers and beyond that just a marketing organization.
      Sponsoring these “meetings” with forces whose goals include cutting social security and medicare is totally contrary to the idea that they serve Seniors in any way shape or form.
      I advocate a boycott of their organization. There is just no benefit.

  12. Ep3

    Yves, I think the plan is to keep preaching this grand bargain until the baby boomers die off and then they can roll out changes, because the rest of the age groups are so convinced SS and Medicare won’t be around, so why even try to save them.
    And this is why corporations were not intended to be so powerful. Something with the ability to live forever could eventually take over. All the corporation has to do is outlive one generation.
    It sickens me. 10 years ago you were crazy if you thought the AARP would even consider something like this. Now they roll right over. And what do they care. Anyone connected who makes such a decision will never suffer like us common folk who actually depend on SS and Medicare. Of course, if they wouldn’t have done away with pensions, then we wouldn’t be so dependent on such programs.

  13. Hugh

    I thought AARP was essentially a shell whose real business was selling insurance. Cutbacks in Medicare would mean they could grow their insurance business. The kleptocratic perspective is as always useful. We should always assume that public institutions and public interest groups are fronts for looting and the looters until we have solid, consistent evidence to the contrary.

    I don’t know how it works with AARP exactly but local chapters of national organizations often stay truer to the original intentions and goals. It is those at the top, often living in and around Washington that are the complete sellouts. They see their membership as nothing more than a cash cow. They have no interest in real solutions to anything because this might put them out of a job and reduce contributions.

  14. Otto

    Apparently there are still people that are fooled by the AARP name. The AARP is an insurance company with an association as a marketing tool. In addition the AARP sells its name like the Good Housekeeping Seal used to. Their business model has nothing to do with the welfare of the “members” – in quotes because receiving marketing materials is about the only privilege of so-called membership.

    If you cancel your membership they renew you anyway. They couldn’t care less about your opinion. The “listening tours” are another marketing ploy.

    They get away with “representing the seniors” inside the beltway but only on the surface. One micron below that veneer is something every insider knows – an insurance trade group with a lot of money.

  15. Kokuanani

    I think I’ll scribble my protest on each of the 7-10 pieces of mail I get from AARP each week, all touting some insurance program I should be buying from them.

    At least this will save me the cost of paper & return postage. Won’t be as “classy” as a “real” letter, but I think they’ll get the message.

  16. rps

    There’s a fairly simple solution for the anti-social safety-nets minority, Volunteer Waiver forms opting out of social security, medicare, medicaid, and disability payments. In fact, I suggest these “truth tellers” be the example of their ideologies, and publicly sign their John Hancock”s on the waivers of their ideologies.

    As for the “rest of us” the majority, we will agree to the “no cap” limit, lowering social security age since it’s the practice of employers to fire 50yr old employees, and lower the medicare age too.

    Simple solutions. By the way, every american must pay into both programs whether they choose the opt out program or not. Why?, to quote Thomas Paine,

    “Separate an individual from society, and give him an island or a continent to possess, and he cannot acquire personal property. He cannot be rich. So inseparably are the means connected with the end, in all cases, that where the former do not exist the latter cannot be obtained. All accumulation, therefore, of personal property, beyond what a man’s own hands produce, is derived to him by living in society; and he owes on every principle of justice, of gratitude, and of civilization, a part of that accumulation back again to society from whence the whole came.”

  17. Sophie

    As noted above, AARP is not an advocate for the elderly, it’s a front for private health insurance companies. A friend of my mother canceled her membership and stopped paying AARP years ago, but they keep sending her junk mail and an automatic membership card, which she keeps putting back in the return envelope with Remove Me! written across the name, etc.

    Also, regarding the issue of single payer healthcare, it’s worth noting that NPR (the so-called liberal media) failed even to report on single-payer during the entire debate over health-care reform:

    1. rps

      I guess you didn’t get the memo on NPR’s affliations? NPR is an acronym for Nice Polite Republicans

      1. Sophie

        I know, the “left’s” cover for war, also known as National Petroleum Radio, Chevron being either their #1 official sponsor or one of the main sponsors. Stopped listening a long time ago, so I’m not sure which.

  18. John Lenihan

    I have ignored the moronic AARP since their trashy freebie “magazine” published long pseudo-serious articles about “Viagra Etiquette” (!!), some years ago, i.e when do you take it, morning, noon, night, or after the theater!

    I also had a problem understanding the thick, impenetrable
    Yiddish they often wrote with, although I have no problem with English, Spanish or basic French.

    As I said, morons. Who could be surprised that they are sellouts too?

  19. website

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  20. PeonInChief

    Ah, my children, you do not remember the appalling performance of the AARP when the Greenspan Commission raised the retirement age and increased the payroll tax to pay for the retirement of the boomers. Now the payroll tax has raised an extra couple billion for the retirement of the boomers, but the government spent the money on bailing out banks, stupid wars and tax breaks for the rich.

    Now comes the crunch, and the money has to be paid for its intended purpose. “No,” they cry, “we don’t want the rich to pay more taxes. Let’s cut benefits for those who paid the money, and keep taxes low.” That there is called thieving, and we want every penny of the money we paid in.

    AARP screwed us once; we won’t let them do it again.

  21. Robert

    Endorsing an insurance company which paid its CEO, in one year, the equivalent of the LIFETIME earnings of a thousand workers does not pass my smell test. Add to this the fact that in the name of corporate greed, the cost of $7,000,000/minute drug ads during the Superbowl are rolled into the Rx cost, and you have the ultimate triumph of greed over social welfare.
    In its occasional wisdom, Congress banned cigarette and liquor ads from TV. The same should be true for all drug ads. When you hear an ad tell you “ask your doctor if [$600/shot Epogen or even worse] is right for you, you should be writing your congressman asking if paying exhorbitant drug costs because he has accepted huge donations from those companies is right for you as well

  22. Carly EngageAmerica

    The annual share of the U.S. budget spent on programs benefiting seniors has increased rapidly in the past few decades. More importantly is that these same programs under current law are expected to continue to increase rapidly in decades to come. Data on Social Security and Medicare spending from the Congressional Budget Office is used to show the historical trends and projected share of the budget between 1970 and 2084. In 1970, spending on Social Security and Medicare was one-fifth of the budget. This portion has since grown to nearly 37%of the budget in 2010; this amounts to 8.4% of the country’s gross domestic product.
    According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in 2004, a substantial portion of Medicaid spending went to those older than age 65. Thus, this amount must be added to the costs of Social Security and Medicare in order to establish a more accurate figure for the total budgetary burden of entitlement programs for the wealthy.
    In 2004, 28% of Medicaid spending went to those older than 65. If this figure held constant through 2010, then the original estimate of 37% for the elderly population’s share of the federal budget rises to roughly 40%. This moves forward the timetable for the growth of these programs in the projected future, with these three areas of spending constituting more than half of the federal budget sometime in the next decade.
    The growing number of beneficiaries due to the aging of the baby-boom generation will cause scheduled spending to surge. If current Social Security and Medicare policies continue without change, large deficits will undoubtedly emerge in the next decade and will grow even larger in subsequent decades. Undoubtedly, these trends are unsustainable, and current law cannot be allowed to stand if these entitlement programs are to remain solvent without bankrupting the federal government (

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