21 June 2011

AARP's reply and mine to theirs on Social Security

To my recent letter to AARP (*here), I received this reply; with my reply to that below.

Dear Mr. Studhalter:

Thank you for contacting AARP regarding inaccurate media stories
about the association's policy on Social Security:

AARP is committed as ever to fighting to protect Social Security for
today's older American's and to strengthen it for future generations.
 Contrary to the misleading characterization in a recent media story,
AARP has not changed its position on Social Security.

We are currently fighting proposals in Washington to cut Social
Security in order to reduce a deficit it did not cause.  AARP
believes Social Security should not be used as a piggy bank to solve
the nation's deficit.  Any changes to this lifeline program should
happen in a separate, broader discussion and should make retirement
more secure for future generations.

Our focus has always been the impact of changes on people, not just
budget totals.  This is why AARP's volunteer Board is evaluating any
proposed changes to Social Security.  They will determine how each
change-individually or in different combinations-might impact the
lives of current and future retirees, especially in times of economic

We have maintained for years-to our members, the media, and elected
officials-that long-term solvency is key to protecting and
strengthening Social Security for all generations.  We have urged
elected officials in Washington to address the program's long-term
challenges in a way that's fair for all generations.

It has always been AARP's policy that Social Security be strengthened
to provide adequate benefits, in order to ensure solvency for the
next 75 years.  Any changes should be phased in slowly, over time,
and should not affect any current or near-term retirees.

AARP strongly opposed a privatization plan in 2005, and continues to
oppose this approach. Private accounts would reduce benefits and add
a large measure of risk.  They would eliminate the guaranteed income
that Social Security currently provides.

Social Security is a critical issue for our members, their families
and Americans of all ages.  We are in a time when many will have less
retirement security than previous generations due to fewer pensions,
less savings and rising health care costs.

To take action to help protect Social Security, and to learn more
about what we're doing to help older Americans, go to
www.aarp.org/strengthensocialsecurity from your home computer or at
your local library.

I hope this information is helpful.  Again, thank you for getting in
touch with us.  It is important for us to know the concerns of
members.  If there are any services or issues we can assist you with
in the future, please do not hesitate to ask.


Member Communications
My reply:

Thank you for your reply, but you have not indicated the kind of strong stance that the membership by and large demands. You need to realize that this is an epochal struggle at this time to preserve the only meaningful social programs for the majority of Americans which we have managed to preserve thusfar in this country.

I strongly recommend to you Thomas Geoghegan's excellent op-Ed in Monday's New York Times, advocating payroll and other revenue adjustments to raise, not merely preserve, Social Security, as an essential element of the basic economic security of tens of millions of Americans. AARP should not be milquetoasty and middle-of-the-Road on this issue. If they want to present themselves to their membership as strong advocates for their interests, they need to start acting like it, and supporting changes in the right direction, not the wrong direction.

I remain entirely dissatisfied with the organization's position on this issue and will not contribute funds to their lobbying activities until they are changed to a much stronger advocacy position. Fiscal strength must come from the revenue side, not on the backs of Americans who have seen wages flat and the greatest wealth transfer to the richest Americans in history over the last thirty years.

Thank you.

David Studhalter

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