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.