Friday, June 17, 2011

Instead of Lifting Taxable Income, AARP buckles, gives support to Social Security Cuts.

The easy solution for Social Security would have been to lift the income cap to all wages, or at least to $180,000, as some economist have suggested. But no, that's too easy. Instead AARP has bought into the often repeated mantra that only cuts to the social safety net would work.

The Wall Street Journal today reports that the Board of Directors of AARP has dropped its long-standing opposition to cuts in Social Security benefits.  This is a huge political development, since Social Security "reform" is literally impossible without AARP support.

This is a huge defeat for seniors, and a sign AARP is desperately trying to compete with its radical conservative competitor, 60 Plus. 60 Plus is a corporate shill group disguised as a defender of the elderly. For instance, 60 Plus for some reason supports high debit card fees:

"To protect seniors’ interests, members of Congress should vote in favor of any such measure delaying the Durbin price controls."

They've endorsed Ryan's Medicare plan.

"60 Plus Association Chairman Jim Martin today blasted the Democrats’ deception and fear-mongering on the issue of Medicare reform."

In an almost funny example of projection, Martin went on to make this ironic Ryan like "warning:"

“It’s time to put an end to their ‘mediscare’ tactics. The reality is that Medicare in its current form is going to bankrupt our nation – we must either reform the program or watch it die."

Nothing scary about that, right? Here's the surreal "scare mongering demagogic" ad:

TPM: It's mobilized Social Security's strongest advocates against AARP, and it's prompted AARP to initiate a partial walk back -- a statement calling the story "misleading, but reiterating that the group could support Social Security reforms if they don't cause future retirees too much pain. AARP has reopened the rift by making this strategic shift -- to blink as a signal to tax-averse conservatives that they'll play ball on a stand-alone Social Security deal if revenues are on the table.

The Journal article quotes AARP's top policy guy, John Rother, supporting the decision. "The ship was sailing. I wanted to be at the wheel when that happens," he said.

Here's how the Journal describes the reforms AARP is willing to accept:

The group will accept cuts, but won't champion them, and it is particularly leery of certain concepts such as eliminating benefits for wealthier recipients.
It wants tax increases to fill most of the program's financial hole, and it insists that a deal must be crafted apart from broader deficit-reduction negotiations.

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