Just a few hours after the inaugural press conference of the Alliance for Retirement Prosperity - an organization I co-chair along with former Congressman Dick Armey and former Social Security Commissioner Dorcas R. Hardy - we received word that the AARP is considering legal action against the alliance because the acronym "ARP" sounds like "AARP." However, the distinctions between the two organizations could not be more clear.
Our Alliance for Retirement Prosperity ( www.arpnow.org ) is an organization whose sole purpose is to help lead and coordinate the legislative and grass-roots efforts for real Social Security reform enabling working Americans to invest in the private economy for their retirement by redirecting at least half of the current 12.4 percent payroll tax into their own personal retirement accounts. The alliance is in its infant stages, just beginning to raise money for a budget of less than $1 million. In stark contrast, the AARP boasts a membership of some 35 million members, has been around since 1958 and has an annual budget of $620 million.
The alliance has a visionary mission: to transform Social Security for the 21st century premised upon retirement prosperity and individual ownership, which would complete the transformation of America into an investor nation. The alliance opposes all payroll tax increases and benefit cuts, and supports reasonable restraint on federal spending growth and prudent federal borrowing to finance the transition to the new system. I believe the enactment of large personal retirement accounts would bring to fruition Abraham Lincoln's true American dream of making every worker an owner.
Conversely, even mentioning personal retirement accounts seems anathema to AARP. After President Bush uttered the words "personal retirement accounts" in his 2004 State of the Union Address, AARP representatives rushed to criticize any such proposal. David Certner, AARP's director of federal affairs, said, "We continue to oppose reform proposals that would take money out of Social Security and put it into private accounts. ... Taking money from Social Security would only weaken the program."