Big Trouble on the Horizon for AARP?

The shameless Big Government lobby group AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) is cruising for a bruising, the Des Moines Register editorializes today:

[…] According to AARP’s 2007 annual report, it had total operating revenue of $1.17 billion, making hundreds of millions from selling memberships and generating $498 million from the use of its logo, fees and “service-provider relationship-management fees.” AARP championed changes in 2003 that increased private-sector involvement in Medicare, the government’s health insurance for seniors, and then AARP endorsed private Medicare plans that benefited from the law change.

While promoting itself as an advocate for seniors, it lobbies with one arm and rakes in big bucks endorsing products with the other.

When an entity such as AARP enjoys tax breaks, in essence everyone else pays more. That bothers Grassley’s friend and former colleague Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo.

During an interview with the Register, he called AARP’s nonprofit status “the greatest abuse of American generosity that I witnessed in my time in the U.S. Senate.”

The retired senator, who investigated AARP in 1995, wants Grassley to go beyond the inquiry into the health plans AARP sponsors and to look at everything from its tax advantages to how it knows “when every single American turns 50.”

“Grassley is a strong enough guy to do it,” Simpson said. “And you have to be strong.”

In addition to the organization’s “battery of attorneys and accountants,” AARP has the power to quickly “galvanize its forces” and essentially put the brakes on inquiries into the organization, Simpson said. He repeatedly mentioned “the dreaded phone tree” it uses to rally members on its behalf.

“If anybody is relentless, it’s my old pal Grassley. He doesn’t bow to pressure, unless it’s the corn lobby,” Simpson said with a laugh. […]

One of our writers took the position in a paper last year that AARP is a “liberal lobby that poses as a seniors advocacy group.”

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