The AARP released the following release in response to Sen. Kent Conrad's (D-ND) proposal to control deficit spending:
AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond today announced the Association's opposition to a measure that would require Congress to fast track votes on spending reductions that could jeopardize Medicare and Social Security benefits that millions of Americans have earned through a lifetime of hard work. In a letter to Senate leaders, AARP pledged to work constructively with Congress and the Administration in open, bipartisan efforts to advance solutions to address the nation's long-term fiscal challenges, but made clear that it does not support efforts that could harm the Social Security and Medicare programs that older Americans depend upon for their health and economic security.
Key excerpts of the letter follow below:
"AARP acknowledges that the nation's long-term debt requires attention... We oppose, however, providing fast-track authority to a task force that will function with limited accountability outside of the regular order of Congress and will be exclusively focused on debt reduction. We further oppose the establishment of such a taskforce in light of the targeted Medicare savings and proposed Medicare Advisory Board (that would have further authority to reduce Medicare spending) in the pending Senate health care reform legislation."
"AARP believes the issues that the fiscal task force is meant to address--including the revenue gap, health care costs and the long-term solvency of Social Security--are among the most fundamental challenges we face as a nation. As such, they are issues that Congress itself, through its regular order, should tackle. "
"A task force that is directed to identify proposals to restore the nation's long-term fiscal health cannot do so without regard to the impact its recommendations would have on individuals. Broad, deep cuts to the nation's health and economic security pillars -Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security -could reduce long-term imbalances, but would do so by shifting significant burdens and risks to older Americans and millions of others who rely on these benefits."
"Furthermore, we urge that Social Security not be considered in the context of deficit reduction--the program does not contribute to the deficit, and its long-term solvency can be resolved by relatively modest adjustments if they are made sooner rather than later."
"...AARP is committed to working on a bipartisan basis with Congress to develop and advance responsible policies to address the nation's long term fiscal challenges. However, given the significance of these programs to the well-being of nearly all Americans, AARP believes a full and open debate is essential to ensuring the development of equitable solutions. As such, we oppose legislation that would bypass or short circuit the protections afforded by regular order."