“The Center for Media and Democracy has learned that AARP has recently [2014] joined ALEC, and that it is a named sponsor of the ALEC annual meeting taking place in Indianapolis, Indiana from July 27-29, 2016.” – – The Center for Media and Democracy, July 28, 2016

“It was very recently revealed that AARP is a supporting member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Koch brothers’ organization dedicated to, among many other things, destroying Social  Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.” – – Politicususa, August 5, 2016

“ALEC’s right-wing, corporate agenda is all about privatizing Social Security, gutting pension plans, turning Medicare over to insurance companies and pushing laws that would make prescription drug prices even higher for seniors.” – – Our Future.org, August 4, 2016

ALEC’s National Chair, Wisconsin State Senator Leah Vukmir, told attendees at a breakfast meeting on Friday, August 29 [2016] that “one of our very good sponsors, AARP” was “being intimidated.” “They are under siege right now … And I need every one of you to make sure you call your AARP representatives back in your states.” – – – The AARP members conducting the “siege” are an estimated 38 million Americans over the age of 50, about half of whom are retired, and 70 percent of whom are grandparents. In ALEC’s world, an organization responding to its own members’ concerns, rather than ALEC’s demands, is “being intimidated.” – – Center for Media and Democracy

“A shamed AARP withdraws from right-wing lobbying organization ALEC” – – Los Angeles Times, Dec. 11, 2016

It would be nice to believe AARP’s (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) association with ALEC was simply as they stated, “an opportunity to engage with state legislators and advance our members’ priorities from a position of strength at ALEC’s annual meeting.” But it would be naïve to drop one’s vigilance.

My wife and I are still members of AARP and we recently received a mailer from them entitled: “I WILL STAND WITH AARP . . . TO KEEP SOCIAL SECURITY STRONG.” A donation was requested to “greatly aid our (AARP’s) efforts” to “ensure the long term stability” of Social Security. This seemed harmless, but what followed was a request for our signature on four separate petitions (one to President-Elect Donald Trump, one each to Senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin, and one to Representative Sean Duffy) requesting legislators to protect Social Security. These were to be returned to AARP who would then presumably pass them on to the legislators.

Other than minor differences between the introductory sentence in the petition for Mr. Trump and the ones prepared for the other legislators, this is the wording used by AARP:

“As one of your constituents, I am urging you to take immediate action and work with President-Elect Trump and your Democratic and Republican colleagues in Congress to develop a viable plan to ensure the long-term stability of Social Security. This important foundation of retirement security is in trouble, and will soon not be able to pay out 100% of the benefits owed to Americans. That’s why you, your colleagues on Capitol Hill, and President-Elect Trump must work together in the coming Congressional session to implement a plan to ensure that Social Security is stable and adequate for generations to come.”

My wife and I both had the same reaction to the petition: Disgust. The wording is classic ALEC and classic sound bite manipulation. We need to “urge” legislators to take “immediate action.” This is an emergency! Social Security is in “trouble” and soon “won’t be able to pay out benefits.” Something must be done! Immediately!! Legislators must come up with a “plan!” Social Security must be made “stable” and “adequate” for “generations to come.”

Of course AARP somehow “forgot” to tell the millions of seniors they sent this petition to that Social Security would have no problem paying 100% of benefits until 2035 and could continue paying 75% of benefits until 2090. That rather takes the wind out of “immediate,” “trouble,” and “won’t be able to pay out benefits.” And AARP also conveniently avoided the “blinding flash of the obvious,” the “no brainer,” that solving the “immediate” problems that won’t occur for at least 18 years does not require a “plan.” Raise the cap – or better yet, eliminate it all together – on taxable income for Social Security so that the fabulously wealthy oligarchy that now owns the U.S. government pay their fair share, and any “trouble” with Social Security will be gone.

It is impossible to know what AARP’s true motivations were in sending out these petitions. But the effect – whether intended or not – is to frighten senior citizens, to make them oblivious to the deliberate attacks on Social Security by those who would turn it into a money making scheme for Wall Street, to scare them into accepting any “plan” that would protect their security but destroy it for “generations to come.”

It would appear that the elderly (and all others who plan on aging) in America may be in need of a nationwide organization to represent them. One is reminded of the old saying – – – “with friends like these, who needs enemies?”