Recent statements from key policy personnel of AARP, the powerful lobby for the elderly, expressed a willingness to consider reductions in future Social Security benefit growth to help correct the program’s financial shortfall. These remarks received a fair amount of coverage, the central thesis of which was that AARP’s newly expressed receptivity to benefit changes may make it substantially easier to enact bipartisan reform legislation.
My take on this interpretation of AARP’s statements is one of skepticism. I do not see their recent comments as significant or new. In support of this skepticism I offer the following observational points:
First point: The substance of AARP’s recent statements is not new or different. AARP has always expressed a willingness to consider “a balanced package of revenue and benefit measures”, if – and that’s a big if – the entire package is to their liking. By contrast, there has always been another caucus of advocates urging that benefit growth restraints never be enacted. This other is an unabashedly far-left caucus and AARP has never been within it, instead portraying itself as less ideological and less partisan. AARP has in the past expressed an appreciation of the need to reform Social Security’s benefit structure even as they have withheld their support from various specific proposals to do so. AARP’s follow-up statements have confirmed that this longstanding posture has not changed.
(photo credit: LCCR & LCCREF)