Entries in AARP (5)


Paul Ryan Booed on Obamacare at AARP 

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- Paul Ryan addressed a crowd Friday in New Orleans that was very different from the supportive groups he gives his stump speech to in battleground states around the country.

While those crowds are always cheering, this group of senior citizens at the American Association of Retired Persons, or AARP, booed the vice presidential nominee throughout most of his speech, especially when he delivered his signature promise to repeal the president's health care plan, or "Obamacare," which AARP has endorsed.

The 42-year-old, who did not seem rattled by the uneasy reception in the Big Easy, acknowledged that he is younger than the attendees at AARP's national convention Friday, but said he has "given a good deal of thought to later seasons in life."

Much of his speech was spent blasting the president -- who spoke to the convention earlier via satellite -- for the Affordable Care Act and defending his own signature health care plan, a message similar to one he delivered early in his candidacy at the world's largest retirement community, "The Villages," in central Florida, but one with a very different reaction from the audience.

"The first step to a stronger Medicare is to repeal Obamacare, because it represents the worst of both worlds," Ryan said to cries of "No!" from the audience. "It weakens Medicare for today's seniors and puts it at risk for the next generation. First, it funnels $716 billion out of Medicare to pay for a new entitlement we didn't even ask for. Second, it puts 15 unelected bureaucrats in charge of Medicare's future."

Ryan included those same cuts in his signature budget plan -- the same plan Mitt Romney has said he would sign if he becomes president -- but Ryan says he was forced to build his plan on those cuts because they were already signed into law.

The $716 billion in cuts do not affect benefits for today's seniors. Instead, they reduce provider reimbursements and are intended to curb waste, fraud and abuse.

Ryan's plan has come under attack from Democrats because it would fundamentally change the plan, essentially making it a voucher program that critics say could cost senior citizens more.

President Obama addressed the group via satellite before the GOP vice presidential nominee and took a swipe at rival Mitt Romney's claim that the 47 percent of the electorate that will vote for Obama are people who are "dependent upon government" and believe "that they are victims."

"Medicare and Social Security are not handouts. You've paid into these programs your whole lives," the president said to applause. "You've earned them and as president it's my job to make sure Medicare and Social Security remain strong for today's seniors and future generations."

Obama argued that his signature legislative achievement -- "Obamacare" -- has extended the financial solvency of Medicare and lowered costs for millions of American seniors.

Invoking a new administration study of the law, Obama claimed the average Medicare recipient will save $5,000 over the next 10 years thanks to provisions in the Affordable Care Act. He said the measure to close the so-called prescription drug doughnut hole has saved 5.5 million seniors an average of $641 apiece this year alone.

The Obama campaign has been attacking Romney-Ryan on the airwaves in key battleground states, including a new TV ad launching Friday that says the Republicans' proposed "premium support" plan for Medicare -- a voucher-style system -- will heap costs on seniors to the tune of $6,400 per year.

Ryan doesn't like the term "voucher" and says his plan is the only way to save Medicare from going completely bankrupt, and Romney has said his plan for Medicare is nearly "identical" to Ryan's.

It was this message that Ryan brought to the convention, pointing out that the audience probably heard the word "voucher" from the president earlier Friday.

"I think you might have heard the word 'voucher' earlier today, right?" Ryan asked the crowd, referring to the president's speech. "Let me explain. That's a poll-tested word basically designed to scare today's seniors. Here's what a voucher is: A voucher is you go to your mailbox, and you get a check, and you go buy something, and you're on your own. Nobody's proposing that. What we're proposing is an idea that I proposed with a Democrat in the Senate last year. What we're proposing is an idea that came out of Bill Clinton's 1999 Commission to Save Medicare."

During the question-and-answer portion, Ryan was asked how he would work for bipartisan solutions to the issues of Social Security and Medicare.

"Don't demean the opposite side, don't demagogue Democrats," Ryan answered. "Invite them into a coalition to work with us, to talk, and then solve these problems. You see, you can get to common ground on these problems if you treat people with respect, without compromising your principles, and the very existence of this plan to save and strengthen Medicare, a plan that has been supported by Democrats and Republicans alike, is existence of the fact that we can get this done."

Like at the Villages, Ryan's mom, Betty Douglas, was on hand to watch him and it was when he called her his "hero" that he received the warmest applause.

"When I think about Medicare, I don't just think about charts and graphs and numbers," Ryan said. "My thoughts go back to a house on Garfield Street in Janesville. My wonderful grandma, Janet, had Alzheimer's and moved in with Mom and me.... We had help from Medicare, and it was there, just like it's there for my mom today. My mom is here with me today. She is a Florida senior. That time in my life, when my nana lived with my mom and me, is when we grew the closest. I'm very proud of my mom, and I'm happy she is having a great retirement. Medicare is a big part of her security."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Ad Misleads on AARP Position on Romney

Alex Wong/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- The Obama campaign has released their third new TV ad in 24 hours, a 30-second spot invoking the AARP Voter Guide to discredit the Romney-Ryan Medicare plan.

This ad misleads by suggesting that AARP states as “fact” what is the Obama campaign’s view.

“Fact: Barack Obama will protect your guaranteed benefits and will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program,” the ad says, showing excerpts from the AARP guide. “Fact: Mitt Romney would take away Medicare as guaranteed benefits and instead give future retirees ‘premium support’ or vouchers.”

An examination of the AARP guide reveals, however, that the nonpartisan organization does not make either of those claims.

The document quotes directly from each candidate’s website about his plan for Medicare reform.  The section “AARP’s Position” makes no mention of Obama or Romney and is sufficiently broad that one could argue either candidate’s plan fits the bill.

Here’s that section in the voter guide:

“Medicare should be strengthened and improved so both current and future generations can count on having access to high-quality, affordable coverage.  Medicare should continue to guarantee a specific set of benefits that are affordable and meet a person’s health care needs. Medicare should offer choices that ensure access to high-quality health care. Medicare should improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of care by emphasizing value and cracking down on fraud, waste, and abuse.”

AARP senior vice president John Hishta said in a statement last month after Obama first invoked the group in a TV ad that the group “is a nonpartisan organization and we do not endorse political candidates.”

“For the last 26 years, we’ve been providing voters with balanced information, without all the political jargon and spin, so they can make their own decisions on Election Day,” Hishta said.

To be sure, AARP has opposed proposals to create a “premium support,” or voucher-style, system for Medicare, a stance that would seem to pit them against the Romney-Ryan ticket on a matter of policy.

In a letter to members of Congress in March, AARP CEO A. Barry Rand wrote of the House GOP budget, “By creating a ‘premium support’ system for future Medicare beneficiaries, the proposal is likely to simply increase costs for beneficiaries while removing Medicare’s promise of secure health coverage -- a guarantee that future seniors have contributed to through a lifetime of hard work.”

The group also opposes a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, a move it says would among other things re-open the prescription drug “doughnut hole” for seniors and lead to higher costs.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama’s Answer to Romney Medicare Attack?

Obama For America(WASHINGTON) -- A new Obama campaign TV ad airing today in eight swing states invokes the powerful AARP in response to Republican attacks on the president’s Medicare plan.

The 30-second spot, dubbed “Facts,” is the first from Obama this campaign that addresses Medicare, citing AARP’s support for $716 billion in Medicare spending cuts imposed by the health care law that are now a focal point of debate.

“And the Ryan plan?” the narrator says. “AARP says it would undermine Medicare and could lead to higher costs for seniors. And experts say Ryan’s voucher plan could raise future retirees costs more than $6,000.”

AARP says it has 40 million members.

Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney and running-mate Rep. Paul Ryan have argued that Obama has undermined Medicare by reducing payments to providers and not addressing the program’s long-term financial sustainability. They propose restoring the Obama cuts and eventually transitioning the program to a fixed benefit, voucher-style system that they say would reduce costs.

“President Obama’s new ad, ‘Facts,’ gets the facts wrong,” Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said. “The facts concerning the president’s record on Medicare are clear: 1) Obama cut the program by $716 billion, 2) millions will be forced to lose their Medicare Advantage coverage and 3) the program will go bankrupt in 2024.”

Obama campaign aides believe that the backing and brand-name influence of the nation’s largest – and nonpartisan – advocacy group for seniors will effectively neutralize the GOP claims.

Henneberg did not immediately respond to questions about AARP’s assessment of the competing approaches to Medicare or whether the group’s reputation among seniors would make the Romney-Ryan argument more difficult.

The new Obama ad will air in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia, the campaign said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Jon Huntsman 'Sexy' Despite Views on Entitlements

Jeff Kardas/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- He couldn’t get the votes for the Republican nomination, but Jon Huntsman has gained an accolade of a different kind.

His rock band past and his salt and pepper hair have earned former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman a spot on American Association of Retired Persons Magazine’s 21 sexiest men of 2012.  The former Utah governor shares the distinction with actor George Clooney and musician Yo-Yo Ma as part of the magazine’s “Men on Fire 2012″ series.  Huntsman was the only politician to make the list.

“Your inner strength is as important as your outer strength,” said Huntsman in his interview with AARP.

AARP is a group that defends the interests of 38 million retired Americans.  In the past they have fought for preserving both Medicare and Social Security.  Huntsman, described as a reluctant moderate in a profile posted to the AARP website, said that he would vote for the controversial Paul Ryan Budget, but is also quoted saying that the fervency of the debate is scaring older Americans.

“All I know is that we’re frightening the American people who just want solutions,” said Huntsman in a 2011 Tea Party debate.

Conservatives like Ryan have argued that changes need to be made in order to preserve Medicare and Social Security in the long run.

AARP made headlines last year when their policy chief suggested that Social Security should be part of the larger deficit reduction conversation.

Huntsman is married to Mary Kaye Huntsman and has seven children.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


GOP Questions AARP's Tax-Exempt Status; Dems Call it a 'Political Witch Hunt'

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- AARP was caught in a political crossfire Friday as Republicans from the House Ways and Means committee held a hearing intended to examine the organization’s structure and finances and questioned its tax exempt status.

“AARP may have strayed from its original mission, and it brings into question whether it’s appropriate for it to continue to operate as a 501(c)(4) tax exempt organization,” Ways and Means Oversight subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany, R-La., said.

But the hearing quickly turned into political theater as the sides bickered over the intent of the hearing.

Democrats on the committee accused Republicans of engaging in a “political witch hunt,” punishing AARP for its support of the Affordable Care Act.  Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., likened the hearing to Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible.”

“Your sin, as you may know, is that you backed the Affordable Care Act,” McDermott said.

“This amounts to nothing more than a political witch hunt to punish an organization that spoke out in favor of health reform,” Ranking Member Pete Stark, D-Calif., said.

AARP, a non-profit organization serving 37 million members over the age of 50, supported the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in March of 2010, and CEO Barry Rand condemned recent efforts to repeal the act.

“We recognize there are serious arguments on both sides of this debate. We have analyzed them carefully and conclude that the Affordable Care Act will help millions of Americans afford insurance coverage, will strengthen Medicare and will add new benefits and protections that will help you and your family,” Rand wrote in an AARP bulletin last month.

Earlier this week, Reps. Wally Herger, R-Calif., Dave Reichert, R-Wash., and Charles Boustany, R-La., released a report entitled, “Behind the Veil: The AARP America Doesn’t Know,” which detailed an eighteen month investigation into the organization, which concluded AARP would gain financially from the healthcare law and a conflict existed between the organization’s drive for profit and maintaining the interests of its members.

Rand expressed the AARP’s concern with the report’s conclusions in his testimony.

“We are surprised and disappointed both by the title and substance of the report a few members released this week,” Rand said.  “There is no veil.  Quite frankly we disagree with each of the conclusions drawn in this one-sided report.”

Several Democrats, including Reps. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif. and Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., also took issue with the report on procedural grounds, stalling the flow of the hearing at times, but Herger continued to steer the hearing towards its original intent.

But Democrats remained adamant in questioning Republicans’ objective behind inviting AARP to testify and urged the committee to examine other tax-exempt organizations, such as the 60 Plus Association, Crossroads GPS, and Tea Party organizations.

“I think we have to ask the question -- is this political payback or will this committee be reviewing the tax status of other non-profit organizations that get involved in the political process?” Mike Thompson, D-Calif., asked.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio