AARP revises its stance on benefits after members' backlash
WASHINGTON — AARP, the lobbying powerhouse for older Americans, last year made a dramatic concession. Amid a national debate over whether to overhaul Social Security, the group said for the first time that it was open to cuts in benefits.
The backlash from AARP members and liberal groups that oppose changes in the program was enormous — and this time around, as Washington debates how to tame the ballooning federal debt, AARP is flatly opposed to any benefit reductions for the nation's retirees.
AARP's rejection of any significant changes to the nation's safety net could be a major factor as policymakers seek a deal to put the government's finances in order through raising taxes and cutting spending on federal programs, possibly including popular entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security.
Republicans say scaling back Social Security and Medicare, the largest drivers of future government deficits, is necessary. President Obama has previously been open to benefit cuts.
For lawmakers who would have to vote for such changes, AARP's 37 million members and $1.3 billion budget are a force to be reckoned with.
Over the past eight months, AARP has sponsored a series of candidate debates, run television ads, circulated questionnaires and held more than 4,000 meetings across the country to mobilize its legion of supporters to oppose any cuts.
Under the slogan “You've earned a say,” the group has been building opposition to entitlement changes. A recent poll by the organization found that 70 percent of Americans 50 and older think Medicare and Social Security should not be part of the upcoming fiscal debate.
“We're fighting to stop cuts to Medicare and Medicaid that will hurt beneficiaries,” said AARP's top lobbyist, Nancy LeaMond. “We want to ensure that Social Security is not part of this deficit discussion.”
A recent issue of the AARP Bulletin — the largest circulation magazine in the world, sent to all its members — warned seniors that the proposed change to Social Security previously embraced by Obama and Republicans could cost “a potential cumulative loss of thousands of dollars.” The organization followed that with a letter to all members of Congress cautioning against Social Security changes.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pentagon program seeks to retain U.S. technological edge against foreign rivals
- Ticks reduce moose population in northern states
- Egyptian Bary admits links to 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa
- Authorities in California search for 5 jail escapees
- Pope picks moderate to be Chicago archbishop
- 121 tourists stranded on schooner near Statue of Liberty
- Hurricane shattered Charleston, S.C., tested mayor 25 years ago
- Scope of Chrysler’s latest SUV recall questioned
- Threats from Mexican cartels lead protesters to scrap immigration rallies, organizer says
- DHS headquarters’ planning goes awry
- GOP senators fret U.S. would let Iran disconnect, not scrap, centrifuges