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Why has AARP been supporting ALEC?

Written by Diane Archer

It appears that AARP has been supporting ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council at least since 2014.  ALEC is the Koch-based lobbying group that has been calling for the privatization of Medicare and Social Security, eliminating pensions for public employees, repeal of the Affordable Care Act, more protections for PhRMA, along with many other policies that threaten retirement security in America. So, why has AARP been supporting ALEC, and do AARP members know?

AARP claims that it has supported ALEC to have a seat at the table with conservative policymakers. Really? AARP, a non-profit organization whose mission is to “advance the quality of life for all as we age” is providing financial support to an organization that works against the interest of retirees in order to talk to the policymakers who work against the interest of retirees.

Under recent pressure from a number of organizations, AARP is now saying that it will not renew its membership in ALEC. “We would never work against the interests of older Americans and our engagement with ALEC was NOT an endorsement of the organization’s policies, but an opportunity to engage with state legislators and advance our members’ priorities.”

The Center for Media and Democracy discovered AARP’s ALEC membership and exposed it in late June; it launched a petition to urge AARP to stop its funding of ALEC. Michael Hiltzik in a recent column for the L.A. Times asks why AARP would be allied with ALEC, given that ALEC’s support for repeal of the Affordable Care Act would mean that older adults would once again face a huge gap in prescription drug coverage under Medicare Part D.  ALEC is also opposed to Medicaid expansion. And, it would like to eliminate public pension plans that guarantee workers an annual retirement income in favor of a defined contribution pension plan, which could leave millions of retirees at risk, with retiree benefits subject to the whims of the stock market.

What’s perhaps most confounding and disturbing about AARP’s ALEC membership is that even big companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Pepsi and Coca-Cola pulled their ALEC memberships a while back after the Center for Media and Democracy exposed them. If you’d like to keep pressure on AARP, sign this petition from Social Security Works.

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  • People forget that AARP is primarily an insurance corporation. Like the Koch Bros., AARP is in the business of business. They are effective lobbyists for the elderly as well. There isn’t a month goes by that I don’t get a solicitation for insurance from them.

  • I feel misled. . . I counted on the advocacy of AARP—a simple,pure advocacy,not one layered with profit concerns and odd,bewildering justification.

  • I gave up on AARP when they came out in support of a plan to cut Social Security benefits with the so-called Chained CPI which through some form of voodoo economics ties SS benefits to only a few of the economic indicators that are used to measure the cost of living but not the ones that are actually important to seniors. I agree also with the comment above that even though I’m not a member now I still receive insurance offers regularly.

    • I wouldn’t worry about it. So they were on the wrong side, but they got back on the right side re. the chained CPI issue as it was so unpopular. Having their Medicare Supplement insurance is worth it in my estimation as it’s the best.

  • I present the following statement to the leader of AARP. If I find out at any time in the future that AARP has aligned itself again in any way, shape, or form with a conservative anti senior group like ALEC, I will 1.) Cancel my membership in AARP immediately, and 2.) NOT buy any products made or endorsed by AARP

      • I think you are wrong. Otherwise, why did they hastily drop their membership in ALEC as soon as it became public knowledge? I personally will never join AARP after finding out they supported that terrible pharmacy giveaway in a middle-of-the-night Congressional session during the Bush years. How many elderly people died because they could no longer afford their medication? Especially during the infamously ‘donut hole’ when seniors had to pay the full cost of their medicines? Outrageous!!

  • Older people in general as well as organizations that cater to them continue to be under the false belief that conservatives care about them. This is why so many retirees continue to vote Republican against their own interests. How this lie got started or who started it I have no idea, but it presists. This with AARP is just a byproduct of that mentally and as such is in no way surprising to me.

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