AARP Advises Members to Weigh in on All Public Programs

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May, 2011; Source: AARP Bulletin | With 44 states and the District of Columbia projecting a total of $122 billion in budget shortfalls for fiscal year 2012, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is urging its members to weigh in on the value of public programs serving all age groups. AARP does so in, “Going Broke,” a special report in the association’s monthly bulletin, lamenting that, “on the chopping block are programs that Americans rely upon from cradle to grave.”

Citing a range of policy organizations and polls, the AARP reports that during the recession, 46 states have reduced services. Within this group, 29 states have cut funding for older and disabled people, 34 states have cut public education, 31 states have cut public health, and 44 states have cut the state workforce.

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, “fiscal year 2012 is shaping up as one of the most difficult budget years on record,” even as the country begins to emerge from deep recession. This is because the temporary infusion of federal stimulus payments dampened the impact of state budget shortfalls as income and sales tax revenue plummeted while demand for state services increased. As federal stimulus payments to states wind down, however, state budget shortfalls are likely to worsen before they improve. As Chris Whatley from the Council of State Governments says, “Everything is on the table – and it has to be.”

In response, JoAnn Lamphere, AARP’s director of state government relations for health and long-term care, states that “AARP members should pay attention to the very serious budget decisions taking place in their states and be careful to avoid a knee-jerk judgment of what’s good and bad. They would be wise to think of the value of public programs in their lives.”

When one of the country’s largest membership organizations and powerful lobbying groups urges thoughtful activism beyond its traditional senior citizen-focused policy agenda, it’s worth taking notice.—Kathi Jaworski

  • David Cearley

    Thoughtful activism? The AARP is an insurance carrier posing as a membership organization, and they stand to collect billions in profits through passage of robust public health care.
    A better question is, what programs are we currently borrowing money to pay that should be cut or eliminated. Governments cannot cure all ills, no matter how much money they take from us.

  • Patrick

    And the far-Right Republicans are using this economic crisis to push through their ideological agenda under the disguise of fiscal responsibility. From the same party that both waged two wars AND cut taxes.

    The fact that the Republicans are going after planned parenthood makes it clear that this has everything to do with pushing through their conservative social agenda, and very little to do with tackling the deficit problem.

  • Susan McGuire

    Calling AARP an insurance carrier is just silly. Yes, AARP offers access to Medicare Supplement and life insurance through arrangements with insurance companies. It is a membership benefit. And, yes, AARP gets a royalty for allowing their name to be used in the promotion, but as their website says, “AARP and its affiliate are not insurance agencies or carriers and do not employ or endorse insurance agents, brokers, representatives, or advisors.” Insurance programs at special rates are offered by many professional associations, alumni organizations, and other membership-based nonprofits. You may disagree with AARPs policy positions, but don’t repeat patently untrue accusations.

  • Robin Ferruggia

    Yes, you’re right. The Republicans just want to “get” AARP for not going along with their ultra-conservative agenda that means less profits for members of the American Medical Association. Speaking of which, why isn’t the AMA lobby in Washington speaking out to support Medicare? Probably because they don’t support Medicare – it doesn’t help the docs get rich and the voucher plan the Republicans have to replace Medicare won’t cut the docs’ profits any, nor will it police them and cut rampant insurance fraud like Medicare does. So how come no one ever bitches about the AMA when it comes to tax issues? Because their massive lobby is not a thorn in the side of the Republicans like the AARP’s is. Another thing – the Republicans are trying to push their Medicare agenda in by telling people that it won’t affect those over 55. They’re doing that because they want those of us who are over 55 to not protest their voucher plan and either to vote for it or remain silent (silence is suicide in politics, by the way). Once they’ve gotten our votes with more of their silver-tongued lies, you can bet they’ll make sure they change the plan so it does include all of us of all ages. Whatever they can do to cut programs so their wealthy puppet masters can continue to not pay taxes and freeload off the middle classes they will do. Vote smart in 2012 – if it sounds too good to be true, or to be realistic, it is!