As noted in the Morning Reads, fickle AARP acted the part of the bad boyfriend to a tee, telling Obama to not mention their name in public. After all, someone might get the idea they are together. But AARP keeps sneaking in through the back door when the parents are asleep, because, you know, it is a big secret!
Reps. Phil Gingrey and Charles Boustany, M.D., (R-La.) call them out in grand style.
Reps. Phil Gingrey, M.D., and Charles Boustany, M.D., (R-La.), today released a memo challenging the AARP’s reaction to last night’s presidential debate:
On AARP’s response:
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) released a statement today distancing itself from President Obama, who mentioned the seniors’ organization twice during last night’s presidential debate while attacking Gov. Romney’s plan to save Medicare and defending his own health care legislation.
Its disavowal comes as no surprise, as AARP has come under fire for its coordination with the White House and Democrats during passage of the Affordable Care Act. Letters sent from Reps. Gingrey and Boustany, as well as the House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees, have called on AARP to answer questions regarding this, with little cooperation.
Closer examination of its most recent statement, when compared to the advocacy group’s track record, finds its claims contradictory.
“Earlier this year, we launched You’ve Earned a Say, a national conversation on the future of Social Security and Medicare, to engage people in communities across the country so they have the pros and cons of proposals currently on the table in Washington and on the campaign trail.”
This campaign comes three years too late. Seniors provided feedback on reforming Medicare during AARP’s health care reform polling in 2009. Since then, their leadership has repeatedly rebuffed requests by Congress, particularly physician members of the House GOP Doctors Caucus, to work together to outline a plan to save Medicare.
Instead, AARP continues to support Obamacare, which guts $716 billion from Medicare and includes the rationing board known as IPAB. During the health care reform debate, Rep. Gingrey and Sen. McCain offered an amendment requiring the $716 billion slashed from Medicare to be returned to the program, instead of funding the expansion of entitlement programs. The AARP opposed it, falsely claiming that it would “allow the Medicare trust fund to go bankrupt more quickly.”
“While we respect the rights of each campaign to make its case to voters, AARP has never consented to the use of its name by any candidate or political campaign. “AARP is a nonpartisan organization and we do not endorse political candidates nor coordinate with any candidate or political party.”
In reality, senior AARP leadership and key White House officials worked closely together on the passage of President Obama’s health care reform. They coordinated on everything from speech verbiage to strategy for its passage, including a targeted list of Members of Congress.
August 11, 2009: Top White House aide Lauren Aronson to AARP Policy Chief John Rother and fellow White House official Nancy-Ann DeParle, “The word ‘endorse’ was not in his remarks…the President’s prepared remarks said that AARP was ‘on board’ with health reform generally.” DeParle responded, “We are very sensitive to the use of the word ‘endorsed’ and I know we made that clear to the speechwriters.”
November 4, 2009: White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina emails AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond with a “Top 25 Targets List” from House leadership.
November 30, 2009: LeaMond to Messina, “I am seized of concerns about extended coherent, strong messaging by Republicans on the Medicare savings in the bill. I would like to work closely with whomever is managing that part of the debate…I think we need a concerted strategy…”
December 11, 2009: An email exchange between Hill aides for Sens. Reid, Baucus, and Dodd and AARP lobbyists on Medicare Buy-In reads, “Want to make sure we are ALL on the same page going forward!”
March 17, 2010: LeaMond emails Messina regarding North Carolina Congressman Kissell, “Re: Kissel a Problem.” The exchange details the AARP/White House strategy in securing his support for reform including, “Told him truth will run independent if bill goes down,” and “Having AARP call. Someone needs to walk him back.”
“We remain focused on providing voters with balanced information on where candidates stand on the key issues, so they can make their own decisions on Election Day.”
In fact, AARP leadership consistently ignored the deluge of calls from members, the majority which opposed Obamacare, and instead continued working in conjunction with the White House to perfect their “messaging” to seniors.
July 24, 2009: AARP Health Policy Director Nora Super emails White House aide Aronson, “We really need to talk. Our calls against reform are coming in 14 to one.”
July 24, 2009: AARP Senior Vice President David Sloane to Aronson, “We are getting 1,400 to 1,600 calls per day with the vast majority in opposition.”
July 28, 2009: AARP reports numbers and feedback on health care reform, finding that 4,174 members opposed Obamacare, while 36 supported it.
November 9, 2009: AARP’s Rother to White House aide Ann Widger, “Ann, I think we will try to keep a little space between us and the White House on the issue. Our polling shows we are more influential when we are seen as independent, so we want to reinforce that positioning.”