By Anna Daniels
AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons, recently sent a call to action letter to its members about the need to secure future Social Security benefits. That opening line should have generated a sigh of relief from AARP’s 37.8 million members over the age of 50 who have been following the rumblings from the new Republican Congress to privatize Medicare and Social Security.
Read a little further and you find out that AARP is not alerting us to the potential unraveling in 2017 of two wildly popular and essential components of our social safety net–but rather the potential insolvency of Social Security in 2034. Imagine that your house has been doused in gasoline and an arsonist is standing close by with a box of matches but you are being told that your problem is that you aren’t saving enough money to tent the place for termites seventeen years into the future.
Who are you going to believe? Trump’s vanishing credibility
The irony is that the AARP site provides in depth and clear analysis of the Medicare threat and has a good planned response.
AARP has blown this opportunity to land a politically strategic pre-emptive strike against the explicitly stated Republican agenda to privatize Medicare and Social Security. Trump campaigned on preserving Social Security and Medicare, at least for the individuals currently receiving it. AARP’s position pitch should be “Who are you going to believe?” and force a public answer from both Trump and Paul Ryan about Medicare as well as Social Security.
Back in November, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan clearly signaled that privatizing Medicare was at the top of the legislative agenda. This is no surprise– he’s been touting for years his plan to eliminate the universal, single payer health care system for qualifying individuals by throwing everyone into the private insurance market and providing some form of subsidy. This has correctly been described as “Let’s throw granny over the cliff” legislation. And it’s back.
The irony is that the AARP site provides in depth and clear analysis of the Medicare threat and has a good planned response. Their Medicare Special Report is a must read.
Unfortunately AARP does not provide a similar report on the threats to Social Security nor an in depth response.
Efforts to privatize Social Security go back to the George W. Bush years. Then Congressman, now Vice President Mike Pence voted in support of privatization as did Paul Ryan. Trump has appointed Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert to his Social Security Administration team. Leppert has advocated in the past for privatizing both Medicare and Social Security. Trump’s appointment of Rep. Mick Mulvaney as director of the Office of Budget Management should also cause concern– “Mulvaney has introduced numerous bills that have attempted to cut government spending, particularly on Medicare and Social Security”.
Why in the world did they send out such an unfocused call to action on Social Security at this time? AARP needs to get much better at the ask.
NRA (5 million members) v. AARP (37.8 million members)
The NRA has only 5 million members yet it has managed to lead congress around with a ring in its nose. They maintain a score card on every legislator and are willing and able to whip their membership into a frenzy at the merest hint of limitations on gun ownership.
AARP needs to study the NRA playbook and leverage a membership that eclipses the NRA 9 to 1.
Call to Action
Write or call AARP today. This is the ask:
- Provide a score card on every legislator and cabinet member that reflects their position on privatization, chained CPI, raising the age of collecting Social Security benefits and any reduction in benefits. Put local pressure on those representatives who are willing to undermine these programs.
- Directly ask Trump and Ryan to explain their positions on Social Security and Medicare to AARP members.
- Advocate for raising the cap on Social Security payroll taxes to keep Social Security solvent into the future. Polling data indicate that most Americans of both political parties oppose cuts to Social Security benefits and support strengthening the program by contributing more in taxes
- AARP CEO should be as visible as NRAs Wayne La Pierre. (Quick, name the CEO of AARP.)
- Tell them to grow a spine and stop pussyfooting around the imminent dangers or you will cancel your membership.