Rich Lowry

 If any more confirmation were needed, we've just received it: The AARP's most fundamental principle is "Get all you can, while you can -- young people be damned."

    The nation's largest seniors organization has just sent its 36 million members a scorching message opposing private Social Security accounts, raising the prospect of benefit cuts, Wall Street profiteering and mayhem just short of the apocalypse. The blast is prompted by Bush's endorsement of Social Security reform and proposals to allow younger workers to voluntarily divert some of their payroll taxes into a private retirement account.

    There is nothing about these accounts -- the AARP used to signal its approval for some form of them -- that would necessarily mean benefit cuts. But the AARP invokes cuts as part of what is standard operating procedure in senior-citizen politics -- present seniors with some outlandish scenario (typically a very frightening one), and hope they are just credulous enough to believe it. It's roughly the same theory that Publishers Clearing House operated on for years as it gulled seniors into thinking they were just a couple of magazine subscriptions away from winning millions. Publishers Clearing House's pitch was, "You Are Already a Winner." The AARP and Democrats tell seniors constantly, "You Are Already a Loser."

    It seemed things might be different when the AARP endorsed a GOP prescription drug bill a year ago. AARP representatives met with White House aides, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert and dangled the possibility of a new era of AARP-GOP cooperation. Nothing came of it. The group, as is its wont, took the money from the drug bill and ran.

    The AARP knows that, in the end, the Democrats are the most reliable party of government giveaways. Also, the Democrats savaged the AARP for its treasonous endorsement of the GOP proposal. The Democratic House leadership lined up its members against the bill, and the last thing it wanted was the AARP telling seniors that Democrats had opposed a law beneficial to them. So, AARP officials did the least they possibly could to promote the law once it passed, slyly reinforcing Democratic complaints about the law's deficiencies and complexity.

Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years .
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