Well, good for you, AARP!(Read article summary)
AARP won't oppose cutting Social Security benefits anymore, which shows that the organization understands what it means to make tough choices
This is a big, huge deal. For months, Alan Simpson, one of the co-chairs of the Presidentâ€™s fiscal commission, has been lashing out at AARP and Grover Norquist in the same breath. (Having a hard time finding a video clip on it now, but Iâ€™ve heard Simpsonâ€™s AARP-Norquist rant live at the Peter G. Peterson Foundationâ€™s fiscal summit and at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budgetâ€™s annual dinner most recently.) But today the Wall Street Journalâ€™s Laura Meckler reports:
WASHINGTONâ€”AARP, the powerful lobbying group for older Americans, is dropping its longstanding opposition to cutting Social Security benefits, a move that could rock Washingtonâ€™s debate over how to revamp the nationâ€™s entitlement programs.
The decision, which AARP hasnâ€™t discussed publicly, came after a wrenching debate inside the organization. In 2005, the last time Social Security was debated, AARP led the effort to kill President George W. Bushâ€™s plan for partial privatization. AARP now has concluded that change is inevitable, and it wants to be at the table to try to minimize the pain.
â€śThe ship was sailing. I wanted to be at the wheel when that happens,â€ť said John Rother, AARPâ€™s long-time policy chief and a prime mover behind its change of heartâ€¦
In an early sign of its new approach, AARP declined to join a coalition of about 300 unions, womenâ€™s groups and liberal advocacy organizations created to fight Social Security benefit cuts. â€śThe coalitionâ€™s role was to kind of anchor the left, and our role is going to be to actually get something done,â€ť said Mr. Rother.
So good for you, AARP, and in particular, good for you, John Rother. I know itâ€™s hard for many of these same Social Security advocates to understand that some of us who support voluntary, well-considered reform of Social Securityâ€“as an alternative to risking its demise from not-so-benign neglectâ€“are actually advocates for Social Security, too. But AARP understands now. AARPâ€™s decision is a prime example of the very tough choices that have to be made, weighing policy wisdom against political pressure, when it comes to fiscal responsibility.
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