The AARP is doing now what the AARP has always done, educated and organized its vast grassroots resource of older Americans about the dangers of the Republican budget plan to their economic well-being, as well as their health, in it's massive Medicare and Medicaid cuts. Ryan's PAC attacked the AARP
, calling it a "left-leaning pressure group with significant business interests in the insurance industry," in a fund-raising e-mail. The GOP has been trying to make the case that AARP is in the back pocket of the insurance industry, and is doing the bidding of those companies.
Which is pretty strained logic, as the AARP quickly pointed out. Steve Benen has their response:
After Ryan's political action committee pushed the attack, AARP spokesperson Jim Dau released a statement in response.
"We make decisions on policy based on what we believe will be in the best interests of Americans over age 50. A recent attack on AARP from a political action committee erroneously suggests otherwise. The truth is that the budget plan passed by the House probably would present more opportunities for AARP to strengthen its finances, since every older American would be forced into private Medicare plans, including those that AARP brands.
"But we opposed the legislation nonetheless because we believe the goal should be to strengthen Medicare, not upend it, just as we've expressed concern about alternative plans that could use unelected boards to cut Medicare benefits. That has been AARP's long-stated position, and the well-being of those who need Medicare is the only 'interest' we have in this debate."
That's a pretty mild way of putting it, but the point is important here. Ryan is arguing that AARP opposes Medicare privatization because the seniors' group is siding with the insurance industry. But that's just bizarre on its face—if Medicare became privatized, the insurance industry would stand to make an enormous amount of money from its new customers who would be forced out of a socialized system and into the marketplace.
In other words, if AARP was looking out for insurers instead of seniors, wouldn't the group endorse the Republican plan?
The Ryan plan would be a huge boon to private insurers, and those insurers have been looking out for Ryan. "Ryan has received $672,203 from insurance employees and their families since 1997, his largest industry source of campaign donations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington research group."
A swing and a miss from Ryan.