06.22.2012 14

Is AARP left-wing?

AARPBy Bill Wilson — Once called the American Association of Retired Persons, the AARP is the largest grassroots organization nationwide with over 38 million members. Presumably representing Americans of all political stripes, the organization states that it “helps people 50 and over improve the quality of their lives.”

To that end, the organization provides Medicare supplemental insurance, member travel discounts, pharmaceutical services, legal assistance, and long-term care insurance.

At the same time, the organization is incredibly politically active. In the past two elections, eight members of its 22-member board of directors have given significant contributions to presidential candidates, congressional candidates, and other political action committees and organizations, according to Federal Election Commission records.

But there’s a catch. Since 2007, AARP board members have given almost exclusively to Democrats, with more than 97 percent of donations going to Democrat candidates and left-leaning causes, totaling over $22,000. None was given to Republican candidates during that time.

In fact, two board members, Jeannine English and Ronald Daly, both maxed out with $4,600 donations to Barack Obama. Diane Pratt gave Obama $2,000 (she also gave $1,000 to Hillary Clinton).

To be fair, board member Jacob Lozada gave $2,000 of donations to the Republican National Committee in the early 2000’s. And according to followthemoney.org, AARP gave donations totaling tens of thousands of dollars to Republican state committees in 2007 and 2008.

While there is no inherent corruption in making political donations, what the donations made by AARP’s policy-making board do reveal are at least the ideological bent many of its board members. It is therefore fair to ask if those ideological preferences have affected the policies AARP supports.

Since Obama took office AARP has certainly been a friend of his. It supported his signature health care law despite gutting Medicare by $500 billion over ten years to help pay for Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid and taxpayer-funded health care to millions of Americans currently on private insurance or uninsured.

It also did not say a word when for the past two years, Obama’s misguided payroll tax holiday cost the Social Security trust fund more than $230 billion.

Of course, it is not immune to supporting big government when it’s a Republican doing it. It was instrumental in 2003 in urging Congress to pass George W. Bush’s Medicare Part D — i.e. the prescription drug benefit — that many consider one of the primary reasons the program is teetering towards bankruptcy now.

Were any those policies in the long-term interests of AARP’s members? Since then, the Social Security and Medicare trustees report the programs’ trust funds will be exhausted by 2033 and 2024, respectively. After that, beneficiaries will only receive a fraction of benefits they were promised.

AARP’s silence on both Obama and Bush’s wasteful policies sending these entitlement programs to insolvency contrasts sharply with its full-throated opposition to Bush’s proposal to at least salvage the Social Security program by allowing workers to invest their payroll taxes into private accounts, rather than letting the government squander them.

So, AARP fails to oppose initiatives that appear to be the most costly to these programs, and is dead set against proposals that might set the programs on a sustainable path. Does that make sense? Is its intransigence to entitlement reforms that allow Americans to control their own retirements in the best long-term interests of its current and future members?

Probably not. But maybe they don’t care. Or perhaps they just believe that hiking taxes on younger Americans will plug the holes in these programs, no matter what burden they impose on their economic well-being.

They certainly seem interested in wielding power. AARP board member Fernando Torres-Gil was nominated by Obama on May 9 to sit on the National Council on Disability. Hubert Humphrey left the AARP board to serve in the Obama Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office of Older Americans in Oct. 2011.

All of which — the personal campaign donations to Obama, AARP’s position on issues over the years, and its board’s presidential appointments — gives the appearance of a rather cozy relationship with the current administration. If not left-wing, then, AARP is at least in favor a big government, top-down approach to senior health and retirement issues.

But is that what its members really want? Surely, in addition to comfortable retirements, AARP’s paying members want a sustainable future for their children and grandchildren, too. Those two goals should not be mutually exclusive, but right now, that’s the only choice the organization appears to be offering.

Bill Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government. You can follow Bill on Twitter at @BillWilsonALG.

  • J42ERRY

    hell yes they are

  • gwedem5995

    My husband and I were AARP members for years and we found out they were more interested in politics than looking out for the seniors and we quit.  They are just as corrupt as any other big money-hungry org.  Through our pension plan we have AARP and United Health Care.  Money is being paid to AARP for their sponsorship and I cannot find out how much they get, privileged information, or as to what benefit they give us, but know our insurance would be cheaper without our money going to them.  I don’t know how an organization that started out doing good for the older Americans just let greed overtake them.

  • Poppo

    AARP:  Absolutely Against Retired People.

  • Yes it is.  Evidence: it’s support of Obamacare.  That is why I will not join it.

  • NevadaSam

    And that is why I quit them. I still get a lot of their junk mail…..goes straight to the shredder

  • Samuel Clemens

    AARP sold out to become an insurance company  with Obama Care

  • Barry

    Well Bill,

    You are talking like a liberal now. You failed to mention the fact that Congress mandated that funds be withdrawn from the general fund to make up for the SS deduction loss.

    Shame on you for giving us true conservatives a bad name.

    Barry Kratzer

  • Bedrockron

    Yay they still send me their junk mail but I use it to heat my house.

  • Christianitalian

    More People need to hear about how liberal they are so they unsucscribe and have nothing to do with them. This is  just the tip of the iceburg. If people knew there true colors they would have nothing to do with them.

  • longun45

    AARP appears to be a wholly owned by United healthcare.  They thought they would make a lot of money out of it selling the supplemental insurance.  They claimed during the healthcare debate that they wre not taking sides but did anyhow almost right from the start as witnessed in the town-hall debates where AARP was holding sales meeting on Obummer care.  AARP can continue to send me the unsolicited mailers and I will start using their reply envelopes with extra weights.   AARP is a scam organization.

  • Absolutely arrp has turned into a pathetic organization, bent on helping Obama take this Country down … Get them both out of our hair .

  • guest

    yes they are. they have a special web site JUST for gays and lesbians.   i cancelled my account and tore up my card. 

  • UtahTwisted

    I hope so, that’s why I’m a member.  Crazy that they’re trying to take care of us older folks by supporting the middle class, trying to get affordable health care, protecting social security, what are they thinking?

    Based on the bigoted comments from many here I can’t wait for you to “move along” and make room for diversity and acceptance.  I won’t miss the “older” generation that kept blacks, women, gays, and other minority’s in their place for so long – it’s time for diversity and acceptance and a new generation of American’s to move us forward into the future.

  • Cowboyeunice

    AARP is not  looking out for our Elderly anymore !! Only there to make deals and money from Obama care !!

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