Who rules America? AARP

Power is the ability to get what you want. It suggests that you control events. By these standards, AARP runs government budgetary policy, not presidents or congressional leaders. Obama says we must “win the future,” but his budget (and, so far, the Republicans’, too) would win the past and lose the future. The massive federal debt would continue to grow because, without restraining retiree spending, there’s no path to a balanced budget. The aging infrastructure (roads, airports) wouldn’t get needed repairs. The already-stressed social safety net for the poor would be further strained. We would cut defense while China’s military expands. All this is insane. It’s not the agenda of a country interested in its future…

AARP sends its representatives to Capitol Hill and think-tank seminars, where they pretend to be “reasonable” while frustrating needed Social Security and Medicare changes. Higher life expectancy and private savings mean that eligibility ages could have been gradually raised and benefits curbed for wealthier retirees. Congress, heeding a 1983 commission proposal, slowly raised the age for full Social Security benefits from 65 to 66 (and to 67, much later). Little else of significance has been done. The result is that any effort to control spending must focus on a small part of the budget (from a seventh to slightly more than a third, including defense). House Republicans have cut many programs sharply – some sensibly, others not. Obama is doing the same, though less dramatically.