The big news that got everyone’s juices flowing yesterday morning was the news, as delivered by the Wall Street Journal’s Laura Meckler, that AARP had secretly decided to drop its longstanding public opposition to Social Security cuts and was going to announce the new stance soon:
“The ship was sailing. I wanted to be at the wheel when that happens,” according to John Rother, AARP’s longtime policy chief and a prime mover behind its change of heart.
To [win over liberal allies and AARP members], AARP was preparing coast-to-coast town hall meetings to explain the problem and possible solutions.
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.
My guess is that they were thinking of doing so as a way to give cover to Democrats wanting to cut a debt ceiling deal with the Republicans before the August drop-dead date, and who are too cowardly to back tax hikes on the rich and corporations as the only real solution. The timing is certainly suggestive: Announce it soon, then do a nationwide bullshit blitz on the virtues of cat food, so that the Democrats don’t suffer too much come 2012.
Let me state for the record that I predicted how this would pan out:
That’s why it’s a trial balloon.
It’s being floated to see if there will be any negative reaction such as was received over the donut-hole betrayal. If there isn’t, or not enough of one to bother them, they’ll announce it next month — just in time to give the Democrats and Republicans deficit-cutting cover in order to prevent a default. If there is, they’ll come out with folks speaking on the record this time, denying everything and saying that the WSJ writer must have been mistaken.
AARP Has Not Changed Its Position on Social Security
Reaffirms that program must be strengthened to maintain critical benefits
WASHINGTON – AARP CEO A. Barry Rand offered the following statement in response to inaccurate media stories on the association’s policy on Social Security:
“Let me be clear – AARP is as committed as we’ve ever been to fighting to protect Social Security for today’s seniors and strengthening it for future generations. Contrary to the misleading characterization in a recent media story, AARP has not changed its position on Social Security.
“First, we are currently fighting some proposals in Washington to cut Social Security to reduce a deficit it did not cause. Social Security should not be used as a piggy bank to solve the nation’s deficit. Any changes to this lifeline program should happen in a separate, broader discussion and make retirement more secure for future generations, not less.
“Our focus has always been on the human impact of changes, not just the budget tables. Which is why, as we have done numerous times over the last several decades, AARP is engaging our volunteer Board to evaluate any proposed changes to Social Security to determine how each might – individually or in different combinations – impact the lives of current and future retirees given the constantly changing economic realities they face.
“Second, we have maintained for years – to our members, the media and elected officials – that long term solvency is key to protecting and strengthening Social Security for all generations, and we have urged elected officials in Washington to address the program’s long-term challenges in a way that’s fair for all generations.
“It has long been AARP’s policy that Social Security should be strengthened to provide adequate benefits and that it is sufficiently financed to ensure solvency with a stable trust fund for the next 75 years. It has also been a long held position that any changes would be phased in slowly, over time, and would not affect any current or near term beneficiaries.
“AARP strongly opposed a privatization plan in 2005, and continues to oppose this approach, because it would eliminate the guarantee that Social Security provides and reduce benefits, and we are currently fighting proposals to cut Social Security to pay the nation’s bills.
“Social Security is a critically important issue for our members, their families and Americans of all ages, especially at a time when many will have less retirement security than previous generations with fewer pensions, less savings and rising health care costs. And, as we have been for decades, we will continue to protect this bedrock of lifetime financial security for all generations of Americans.”
Uh-huh. Sure you do. Too many of us remember how you sold out on Medicare Part D.