The influential seniors’ lobby AARP issued a warning Tuesday for members of Congress and Obama administration officials looking to narrow the deficit: Don’t do it with cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

As lawmakers and the White House consider squeezing savings from those programs, AARP CEO Barry Rand, in a lengthy speech at the National Press Club, said his organization will work to put the emphasis on people, not balance sheets. AARP also spelled out ways it wants to strengthen what it said, based on its numerous studies and analyses, is a declining middle class — one where retirement security is becoming less of a reality. …

Rand acknowledged that AARP and its approximately 38 million members, who are older than 50, agree the entitlement programs require some modifications. But he called proposals to raise the eligibility age for Medicare, the federal health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, an example of “cost shifting” that amounts to “pure folly and [is] very dangerous.” He and other AARP officials said the Democratic-backed Affordable Care Act went in the right direction.