by Max Brantley
In a major shift, AARP, the lobby for seniors, is backing off opposition to cuts in Social Security benefits and perhaps even Medicare. Good news for the Republicans. But there will be backlash, as there was when AARP went in the tank for George Bush on a ruinous drug benefit plan.
The AARP has its limits.
The group will accept cuts, but won't champion them, and it is particularly leery of certain concepts such as eliminating benefits for wealthier recipients.
It wants tax increases to fill most of the program's financial hole, and it insists that a deal must be crafted apart from broader deficit-reduction negotiations.
AARP recently launched a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to fight against making Medicare and Social Security cuts part of the broader debt talks now under way. That has reinforced the impression among many in Washington that the group is opposed to dealing on Social Security at all.
UPDATE: AARP is pushing back with a nuanced statement on what it calls inaccurate articles. It doesn't want budget balanced on back of Social Security. It opposes privatization. But it leaves open the question of how to reach long-term solvency. Support for "adequate" benefits is not the same thing as opposing reductions in future benefits, seems to me.