When discussing the Affordable Care Act during the first presidential debate with Republican nominee Mitt Romney, President Obama said, “AARP thinks that the savings that we obtained from Medicare bolster the system, lengthen the Medicare trust fund by eight years.”
That prompted AARP to issue a media release stating in part: “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.”
As it turns out, this may be a total fabrication. The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee unearthed a flurry of emails between AARP and senior White House staff during the Obamacare debate and negotiations.
For example, on Nov. 29, 2009, AARP Senior Vice President Nancy LeaMond emailed Deputy White House Chief of Staff Jim Messina this missive: “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 whoever is managing that part of the debate. I think we are going to need a concerted strategy employing the other seniors groups, an additional ad buy from us, statements from the hospitals, etc.”
Messina responded the following day, “You are exactly right. I am nervous so I pulled our whole messenging [sic] team into my office this morning to coordinate.”
The emails clearly indicate that AARP and the White House were working hand-in-glove with one goal in mind — passing the Affordable Care Act into law.
This might be overlooked but for one fact — AARP was clearly not working to serve its members’ wishes. In an email dated July 24, 2009, AARP’s Nora Super advised White House staffer Lauren Aronson, “I tried to call and you were out. We really need to talk. Our calls against reform are coming in 14 to 1.” Conclusion? AARP was working against the wishes of 93 percent of its members.
One reason AARP may have been pushing so strenuously for the Affordable Care Act’s passage in the face of such overwhelming resistance by its members is that the vast majority of its income is derived from acting as an insurance clearinghouse for its members — not from membership dues. And Obamacare’s passage would provide one more lucrative avenue of insurance revenue for AARP.
Mind you, I have nothing against profit. The profit motive is what makes capitalism the most successful economic system in the world. I do, however, have a bone to pick with an organization like AARP that places profit above the interests of the members it purports to serve.
Yep. All about rat-fink politics.