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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Washington Post Does Front Page Hit Piece on AARP

Washington Post Does Front Page Hit Piece on AARP

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Tuesday, 04 December 2012 08:09

The Washington Post, along with the other Serious People in Washington, is engaged in a full court press to cut Social Security and Medicare. It is prepared to use all the resources of the newspaper to accomplish this end, even if this means ignoring normal journalistic standards.

This explains its front page attack on AARP over its opposition to cuts to Medicare and Social Security. The piece tells readers that AARP, because of its marketing of Medigap insurance, has a conflict of interest in this debate. The argument is that if the age of eligibility for Medicare is raised from 65 to 67, fewer people would qualify for Medicare and therefore fewer people would be able to purchase AARP's Medigap insurance.

The idea that this presents a conflict of interest for an organization that first and foremost is supposed to be committed to protecting the interest of older people is absurd on its face. Polls consistently show that raising the age of eligibility for Medicare is enormously unpopular. It is especially unpopular for the age groups that comprise AARP's membership. This is clearly a phony scandal concocted by the Post to punish AARP for opposing its efforts to cut Social Security and Medicare. 

It is striking that the financial interests of others involved in this debate are never mentioned in news stories. For example, the Post never mentions that Erskine Bowles has received hundreds of thousands of dollars as a director of Morgan Stanley, the Wall Street investment bank. This could help to explain why proposals to impose a financial speculation tax have never been included in any of the deficit reduction packages that he has put forward. 

Comments (4)Add Comment
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written by Chris, December 04, 2012 7:39
If AARP was pushing for unreasonable things like lowering the qualification age, it would smell more like a profit-driven scandal.

I still think AARP should get out of the Medigap business (either sponsoring or otherwise) to maintain true independence. And that financial relationship could turn into a conflict of interest in the future very easily.

Otherwise, in this context, it's clear the Post is just trying to push their own agenda by tying opposition to an increase in qualification age to some financial gain fro AARP.
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written by Chris, December 04, 2012 10:20
Actually the AARP Medigap insurance is the best available. Much better than Blue Cross and Blue Shield in my experience. Doctors like it; often they don't like BC/BS. So I disagree that it should exit the business. Quite the contrary.
agism...
written by pete, December 04, 2012 10:49
I expect that in 40 years if the retirement age is 65 those extremely healthy people will be scratching their heads and saying "huh?" as many of us are now. But clearly, 65 is arbitray and capriciouis, no serious modeling to justify it other than actuarial. Could have part E, catastrophic health, available at 65, but then keep the physicals and such in private hands until 70 or 75. I.e., have "insurance" for unexpected events. But that is the whole problem with insurance now. They take a 20% cut on all things, like physicals and contraception. These things would be 20% cheaper with high deductible plans which covered catastrophes.
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written by urban legend, December 04, 2012 9:47
The American people have made it crystal clear that they do not want cuts in Social Security. Why does the Washington Post hate America? Seriously.

Obama could end this crap by declaring unequivocally that "The overwhelming majority of the American people have made it absolutely clear that they do not want cuts in Social Security, and I do not intend to defy the wishes of the American people. People who are constantly bloviating about how we should cutting Social Security benefits should find something useful to do."

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.

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