AARP needs to clarify position on Social Security

Organization should listen to overwhelming public support for Social Security

AARP’s ambiguous statements about Social Security benefit cuts have led to a public roasting of the organization for caving into public pressure, says Merton C. Bernstein, LLB, a nationally recognized expert on Social Security.

“For as long as anyone can remember, AARP has opposed cutting Social Security benefits; its June Bulletin said so and it went on to pan the Ryan recipe to cook Medicare,” says Bernstein, the Walter D. Coles Professor Emeritus at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.

“But last Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that John Rother, AARP’s long-time policy chief, had indicated that the organization would entertain benefit cuts. Rother responded in a statement that his comments had been misinterpreted, that he only stressed AARP’s desire to strengthen the program’s resources to meet a projected shortfall a quarter century from now.”

Bernstein notes that the Rother statement did not fully square with AARP’s later statement, suggesting a willingness to trade some benefit reductions for improved long-term funding.

“None of this changes the fierce and solid public support for an unimpaired Social Security program for current retirees, near-term retirees and all future retirees —the major victims of possible benefit reductions,” Bernstein says.

“Whatever stance AARP has taken, it does not provide ‘cover’ for the Obama Administration to agree to cut benefits now, soon or in the future. If AARP does not vigorously and clearly repudiate what some see as willingness to accept benefit cuts, AARP will be the loser.”

Bernstein discusses AARP and Social Security in his recent Huffington Post article, “AARP Statements Do Not Damage Public Support For Social Security.”

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