AARP went into "full damage-control mode" this week, after news reports said the powerful seniors lobby would be willing to support some cuts to Social Security. While Democratic allies in Congress expressed shock, AARP leaders insisted the group's position hadn't changed, saying they still oppose reducing retirement benefits as part of a deficit reduction bill, but acknowledge the need for long-term adjustments to keep the Social Security trust fund from being drained by 2036, as projected. Is this a sellout, or is AARP merely recognizing the need to fix the system?
AARP's position is just common sense: "AARP deserves tremendous credit for declaring its willingness last week to sit down and work out a Social Security deal," says Howard Gleckman at Forbes. The 70-year-old system, which will only have enough money to provide future retirees with three-quarters of their promised benefits, desperately needs fixing. Republicans want to reform it out of existence, and Democrats resist even minor changes, but everyone will have to compromise to keep this safety net for the elderly intact.
"Commonsense ways to fix Social Security"
The whole kerfuffle is much ado about nothing: "This is not a sea change for AARP," says Meg Handley at U.S. News & World Report. AARP is just repeating the position it has long maintained to "move the ball forward, and that's what we need." People are living longer, so the need for benefits is increasing, but with the baby boomers retiring, there's not enough money coming in. Nobody has a magic solution, but we do "have to sit down and negotiate and figure it out."
"AARP on Social Security: A game-changer for entitlement programs?"
Actually, this really is a sellout: The timing here is critical, says Daniel Marans at Firedoglake. Signaling a "willingness to make a deal now, in the midst of the debt-ceiling negotiations," only makes it more likely that cuts will have to be part of any deficit deal. AARP has demoralized the Left and energized advocates of Social Security reform, which is certain to "open the floodgates to Social Security cuts."
"Why AARP's support for Social Security cuts matters"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The U.S. Marines are developing laser weapons. Here's why.
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Gamergate has backfired spectacularly on its nincompoop perpetrators
- Ban PowerPoint!
- Why the Supreme Court is allowing Texas to hold an unconstitutional election
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- How 1,000-year lifespans could remake the economy
- 16 characters from other languages that make great emoticons
Subscribe to the Week