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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