News Release

AARP: Lobbying Group for Seniors or Insurance Company?


The Wall Street Journal reports today: “AARP, the powerful lobbying group for older Americans, is dropping its longstanding opposition to cutting Social Security benefits, a move that could rock Washington’s debate over how to revamp the nation’s entitlement programs.”

DOUG HENWOOD, dhenwood at
Editor of Left Business Observer, Henwood said today: “The news that AARP will now support cuts to Social Security reads like a sign that this former lobby for the interest of older Americans has now transformed itself completely into an insurance company. Surely they can’t be persuaded by the merits of the arguments, since the alleged Social Security crisis is a phantom that can’t survive a serious round of fact-checking.” See Henwood’s pieces on Social Security here.

Richtman is the executive vice president and acting CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security; Causey is communications director for the group. [A previous version of this release incorrectly stated that Barbara Kennelly is the group’s president.]

DEAN BAKER, via Alan Barber, barber at
Available for a limited number of interviews, Baker is author of Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and Fall of the Bubble Economy and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He said today: “AARP has consistently exercised poor judgment in pushing the interests of senior citizens. Back in the mid-90s’ debate over changing the cost of living adjustment for Social Security, AARP’s policy director John Rother publicly asserted that the consumer price index overstated the true rate of inflation by 0.5 percentage points, implying that a reduction in the annual adjustment of this amount would be acceptable.

“Fortunately, people with more knowledge of the index carried the day. The only change to the adjustment came from changes in the CPI itself, which lowered the measured rate of inflation by 0.2-0.3 percentage points.

“It doesn’t appear that the judgments of Mr. Rother or the AARP have improved over the last 15 years.” Baker also co-wrote the book Social Security: The Phony Crisis and regularly blogs at “Beat the Press.”

Vice president for income security policy for the National Academy of Social Insurance, Reno just wrote “Case Against Cutting Social Security” for IPA’s blog.