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Tilting at Windmills

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November 4, 2009

AARP COMES THROUGH IN THE CLUTCH?.... In August, at a town-hall meeting in New Hampshire, President Obama talked about the broad support that exists for health care reform. The coalition, he noted, included the American Medical Association and American Nurses Association. He added, "We have the AARP on board because they know this is a good deal for our seniors.... AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare."

The White House had to walk the remarks back. The AARP had agreed with the president's assessment about Medicare policy, and pushed back against bogus conservative claims, but the American Association of Retired Persons had not formally endorsed the reform proposal.

That was in August. Now, it appears the AARP, one of the nation's largest and most powerful membership organizations, is poised to get off the fence.

Officials are telling The Associated Press that AARP -- the seniors' lobby -- will endorse the health care overhaul bill that House Democrats are preparing to take to the floor.

Officials with knowledge of the group's decision told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the senior's lobby has decided to give the $1.2 trillion measure its seal of approval. An announcement is expected Thursday.

Politico is reporting the same thing.

If the reports are accurate, the AARP's endorsement will give reform a considerable boost at a critical time: shortly before the House vote.

One of the more persistent attacks from the right is that reform will somehow be bad for America's seniors. Formal AARP support for the legislation gives Democrats cover and makes clear that the criticism is unfounded.

Every member of Congress knows that seniors tend to vote in big numbers. Those nervous about their support for reform will be glad to know that the AARP is on their side.

Steve Benen 4:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

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Well and good, but I've read that some AARP members have canceled their memberships because of that support (due to misinformation/scare tactics about Medicare cuts). Makes me consider joining AARP (though I'm old enough, I'm far from retired).

Posted by: Me on November 4, 2009 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

AARP has always been "on board" the reform effort, they just weren't going to take an absolute position on a moving target.

Many old-school advocacy groups work like that.

Posted by: Michael J. Ditto on November 4, 2009 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Geez, Steve -- do you think you could do something about the totally obnoxious insurance ad at the top of the page that starts playing spontaneously?

This seems to be a new -- and very obnoxious -- development here at Political Animal. Ads are one things, but ads which start blasting their audio when your mouse goes anywhere near it is extremely unpleasant!

Yeah, great, AARP is on board. Unfortunately, what they're on board with isn't going to be worth the paper it's printed on by the time the Vichy Democrats get done with the bill.

Posted by: karen marie on November 4, 2009 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

And just as the Republicans are gearing up to make AARP the next ACORN...

Posted by: bkmn on November 4, 2009 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

This is the same AARP that made $222 million last year selling health insurance?

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120069183

Posted by: cnmne on November 4, 2009 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

As bkmn notes, there are already rumblings that the teabaggers are eager to go after AARP. That would be teh awesum. AARP has forty million members -- more than the population of California.

Posted by: Time to ACORN those AARP Traitors on November 4, 2009 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

That can only mean one thing, my granny is be feared more then Bin Laden. Who knew.

Posted by: ScottW on November 4, 2009 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

You would be surprised how many believe AARP is a "communist" organization.

My own brother no longer speaks to me because I belong to AARP.

I assured him I am not a communist.

(What the hell IS a communist anyway?)

h

Posted by: h on November 4, 2009 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

I am an AAPR member, just turned 65, will be receiving SS in January, have Medicare A & B and VA coverage. Do I care what happens?
You Betcha, because I am a human being and I do care for my fellow humans, whether they know it or not. The difference between them and us is that "them" does not recognize "us" as one of "them." Once we realize that we are all from the same pot of glue, we will begin to stick together and isolate those that wish us harm out of ignorance and self-absorption.

Posted by: st john on November 4, 2009 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

AARP will now be in charge of death panels? Who'd'a thunk?

h, @16:51 (What the hell IS a communist anyway?):

What I was taught: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs". We never reached that stage, alas. Communal bathrooms and open "marriages" (share the women) were just a capitalist invention, to make us look bad (or good, depending on your personal POV)

Posted by: exlibra on November 4, 2009 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if Joe Lieberman has canceled his membership?

Posted by: Tom Hilton on November 4, 2009 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Just wonder: who/what is the real power behind AARP?

Speaking of ads: again, I didn't appreciate that Bob McDonnell ad on this site. You guys aren't supposed to be commercial whores - OK? McDonnell won and I don't appreciate this site helping him out. Don't reply with flabby shit talk about open sales of advertising space, yadda ...

Posted by: Neil B ♠ on November 4, 2009 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

AARP is pimping itself out to grab a larger share of the soon to be destroyed Medicare Advantage, which is essential to many who are not yet ready for a dirt nap but nevertheless very ill. For AARP, it's all about more market share.

Lots of old people aren't stupid enough to belong to AARP. They understand what a $500B cut means...less money and less even basic care.

The old codgers have phones, write letters, and vote like they have nothing else to do. Beware.

Posted by: marybel on November 4, 2009 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

If I recall correctly, AARP backed the Bush Administration's Medicare Part D proposal, and that didn't go over so well with lots of seniors.

It's nice to have them on board, but let's not overestimate the influence the organization has with senior citizens.

Posted by: Big River Bandido on November 4, 2009 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

Me,

"Well and good, but I've read that some AARP members have canceled their memberships because of that support (due to misinformation/scare tactics about Medicare cuts)."

But the reality is that those tiny number of misinformed RightWingers who canceled are DWARFED by the number of new memberships that AARP gets in ONE MONTH.

Posted by: Joe Friday on November 4, 2009 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

AARP has millions of members (I'm one) who register to vote and vote in greater numbers by percentage than almost any other demographic. AARP also spends millions on lobbying and has at least as much lobbying muscle as the NRA. I can't wait to see how these Republican hypocrites in Congress are going to deal with this when they have to respond to the question of why they are opposed to legislation supported by "millions of seniors". Should be entertaining...

Posted by: Chris on November 4, 2009 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

marybel,

"AARP is pimping itself out to grab a larger share of the soon to be destroyed Medicare Advantage..."

Actually, under the proposed reforms, the Medicare Advantage plans which would cost hundreds of billions in Corporate Welfare and charge 14% more than Fee-For-Service plans, would be replaced by similar plans through Medicare.

Posted by: Joe Friday on November 4, 2009 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

I'm an AARP member, as is my husband. I'm not yet old enough to go on Medicare (I'm 60) but he's been on it for 20yrs. And we're, both of us, strongly, for universal healthcare (he's had a taste of it, when we spent his sabbatical in Poland), nor ever miss an election (even primaries). Like any huge organisation, AARP has a mix of people with different attitudes.

Posted by: exlibra on November 4, 2009 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

Here is some background on AARP's stand with the health care reform from personal experience. Months ago I emailed them asking why they were opposed to health care reform, specifically the public option. Someone replied and danced all around the question, repeating several times that they wanted people to be able to keep their insurance if they were happy with it. Since this wasn't even in question, I emailed again asking why they were opposed to the public option. I got another reply along the exact same lines from the same person, never once responding to my question, so I gave up.

While there may be some people who left them for backing health reform, there were also a bunch who left a long time ago because of their backing of that disastrous joke, Medicare Part D, and for their opposition to the public option. Whenever I get their literature asking me to rejoin, I use their envelope to tell them what I think of their love affair with the insurance companies. It may be that enough people like me have gotten their attention and they're starting to listen to us.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on November 4, 2009 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

"Those nervous about their (seniors) support for reform will be glad to know that the AARP is on their side."
Depends on whether or not their concerns are merely charades. Its really tough work continually making shit up to keep from admitting you are on the corporatist payolla.

Posted by: Chopin on November 4, 2009 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

You have to remember that the 50-65 cohort, not yet in Medicare, is also a big AARP constituency, and they will benefit from reform.

Posted by: bob h on November 5, 2009 at 7:30 AM | PERMALINK

How much does it cost to be a member of AARP? My wife is 51 and I want to sign her up.

Posted by: Patrick on November 5, 2009 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

I'm 67 and have been skeptical about AARP but I'm poised to sign up in the wake of a strong HCR endorsement.

Posted by: BroD on November 5, 2009 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Considering that AARP is in bed with United Health Care hawking Medicare supplemental insurance, this doesn't make me feel any better about the public option. Another windfall for the insurance pigs, another sellout for seniors and other Americans. Ever since they sold out on the prescription drug bill, AARP has given up the right to blow their horn for speaking for seniors. Screw 'em, and their endorsement.

Posted by: Robert Lipton on November 5, 2009 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

AARP lost all credibility with me when they endorsed the prescription drug bill. So I think it's nice when they do the right thing, but their endorsement is meaningless. (Although it does make me wonder if their endorsement of health care reform doesn't indicate that the bill will be even more favorable to the wrong parties than I suspected...)

Posted by: Gwen on November 5, 2009 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

bkmn:"And just as the Republicans are gearing up to make AARP the next ACORN..."
The AARP is going to help setup child prostitution rings??? ACORN made it self.

Posted by: Jim Musselman on November 6, 2009 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK
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