Originally created 05/17/99

AARP's costly agenda 051799 - The Augusta Chronicle



Organizations with the most clout in Washington are also the ones that seek the most Big Government spending programs. Case in point is the American Association of Retired Persons, widely acknowledged as the nation's most formidable special interest group.

AARP lobbyists are bringing their massive laundry-list political agenda to Washington this month -- prompting the National Taxpayers Union Foundation to put a price tag on the big new government programs being proposed.

If every item on AARP's list was passed into law, says NTUF, it would cost taxpayers a staggering $944 billion a year. Of course, that's in addition to the $1.9 trillion in federal programs taxpayers are already being hit up for.

For the average taxpayer, notes NTUF, AARP's proposals would amount to a tax increase of a whopping $7,800 per year. We bet there are very few AARP members who believe their leaders' costly agenda comes close to being worth that kind of money. Such a huge tax hike would wreck the economy.

Another striking aspect of AARP's political agenda, points out the tax-watchdog group, is how far it strays from the special financial services and insurance savings programs the organization uses to recruit members -- yet lobbyists like to pretend to Congress and the public that their agenda is backed, for the most part, by all of AARP's millions of members.

For instance, among the causes AARP advocates -- which have little or nothing to do with the well-being of older Americans -- are secondary education, gun control, global warming, rural highways and campaign finance reform.

AARP, in effect, is a tax-free arm of the party of Big Government. Perhaps there's nothing the GOP-led Congress, which is supposed to stand for smaller, more efficient government, can do about that.

But one thing they should be able to do is to cancel the $70 million in federal grants doled out to AARP each year. That's a shameless waste. The special-interest group is making plenty of money on its own without ripping off taxpayers for even more.