AARP Accused of Betraying Members Over Social Security Cuts

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The AARP used to be called the American Association of Retired Persons, but you wouldn't know that based upon the latest news, as retirement advocates say the organization is throwing its members under the bus as it was revealed in a Wall Street Journal interview on Friday that the association is willing to accept lower Social Security benefits for its members.

According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, AARP is dropping its longstanding opposition to cutting Social Security benefits. Although written about in the WSJ, it has not been publicly stated by AARP. Still, the WSJ said that the AARP "now has concluded that change is inevitable, and it wants to be at the table to try to minimize the pain." To that end, John Rother, AARP's long-time policy chief said, "The ship was sailing. I wanted to be at the wheel when that happens."

What he meant by that, according to the WSJ, is that he wanted to be on-board and steering the ship in an attempt to get its members to understand why the AARP is supporting the change. To organization has 37 million members, and now plans coast-to-coast town-hall style meetings to explain its stance.

AARP earlier declined to join a coalition of about 300 unions, women's groups and liberal advocacy organizations created to fight Social Security benefit cuts, and called Strengthen Social Security. Leaders of that group said that the group may experience a large backlash from its members, who are against any Social Security cuts.

Nancy Altman, co-chair of the coalition said, "They are completely at odds with their membership. AARP has been burned in the past. My guess is that could happen to them again." She added that there is a "'disconnect' between 'elites,' who insist that [Social Security] benefits must be cut for the sake of a deal, and 'regular Americans,' who are adamantly opposed."

Max Richtman, acting CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, noted Rother's need to steer the ship of AARP. He said, "AARP is losing the confidence of seniors around the country, and not just seniors but people of every age group. I hope the ship that he wants to be steer isn't the Titanic filled with seniors."

Meanwhile, rival retirement group Alliance for Retired Americans might see an influx of AARP members. Ed Coyle, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, said, "AARP does not speak for all seniors, and on this topic probably not many of their own members."

Suggestions to balance the Social Security budget is to simply eliminate the cap on Social Security taxes. After all, since Lebron James seems to think he is "above" the rest of us, why shouldn't he pay more? He can certainly afford it.

Additionally, Americans have been paying into the Social Security system and have been expecting a certain payout. Is it fair to change the rules on them and reduce their payouts? No.

Meanwhile, a protest earlier this week indicated that many are not happy with any attempt to change or eliminate Social Security or Medicare. "I care for Medicare," said one sign.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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