Thursday, November 11, 2010

Shame on AARP For Their Response to the Deficit Commission Co-Chairs' Report

The Co-Chairs of the President’s Deficit Reduction Commission are out with their preliminary recommendations.

They’ve done a great job—they’ve offended about everyone!

But we have a nearly impossible but unsustainable challenge in front of us if we are ever going to crawl out of this deep hole.

It is not so much what is on their list as what this list tells us about just how fundamental the changes are going to have to be for anyone who depends in any way on the federal government—which would be everyone in this country born or going to be born for decades to come.

In fact, the preliminary report calls for the Congress to revisit the Public Option if health care costs don’t meet a set of initial five-year targets. Nothing has been left off the table whether it is an unfettered discussion of how bad things are or the wide range of controversial options that now must be considered.

So how does AARP respond to the truth about the problem and an honest attempt to deal with it?

Some separate quotes from their press release yesterday in response to the report:
“With the release of the Co-Chairs’ proposal from the President’s Fiscal Commission today, AARP has responded with concern about how these recommendations would hurt the health and financial security of middle class Americans in particular, and believes that the proposal is contrary to the best interests of American families.”

“During these tough economic times, the last thing we should be considering is targeting the guaranteed, inflation-protected Social Security benefits that millions of Americans count on every day,’ said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President.”

“We're also deeply concerned that the Co-Chairs' Proposals would aim to reduce the deficit by shifting health care costs onto seniors in Medicare. Raising costs on the sick and the most economically vulnerable is both wrong and counter-productive policy. Instead, we should be focused on efforts to lower costs throughout the health care system.”
I liked Senate Budget Chair Kent Conrad’s response a whole lot more, "People can say we want to keep what is. What is is not affordable.”

Of course any report like this is going to be "dead on arrival" on Capitol Hill. But it's real value is that it can be the beginning of an honest discussion on what we will have to do.

AARP has lots of people at its Washington headquarters that understand these problems better than most and very much care about maintaining the integrity of our entitlement programs.

I expected a lot more from them.

AARP should be doing its part getting our people ready for change not pretending that it can somehow be painlessly avoided.

AARP should be taking the lead in explaining to seniors, and those on their way to becoming seniors, just what the problems are and just how fundamental the change is going to have to be if we are in fact going to hand our children and grandchildren a sustainable American Dream.

Shame on AARP! If anyone could be providing critically important leadership here it is them.

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