There’s a lot of chatter this morning about whether AARP, the big retirement organization, has changed its position on cuts to Social Security. That’s based on an article in this morning’s Wall Street Journal. We’ve got a reporter looking into what more we can find out. And we’ll be reporting back to you on that when we learn more. But my initial take is that the piece itself proceeds from an inaccurate premise — one that longtime watchers of the social insurance policy wars will be able to readily identify.
The premise of the article is that AARP has always been a stalwart opponent of any cuts to Social Security or any efforts to transform it into a 401k style individual accounts system. And now they’ve changed that position. But that’s simply not true. As a general matter, yes, AARP has been a significant obstacle to efforts to gut these programs. But AARP has long been a headache for liberal political groups who do want to defend these programs’ basic structure and integrity. Even in 2005, AARP wasn’t the first on board in the efforts to derail President Bush’s plan to partially phase out Social Security.