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Seniors, You're In Obama's Back Pocket

By Columns

Here’s what Paul Ryan said to the folks at AARP about Obamacare.

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“The first step to a stronger Medicare is to repeal Obamacare, because it represents the worst of both worlds. I had a feeling there'd be mixed reactions so let me get into it.  It weakens Medicare for today's seniors and puts it at risk for the next generation.”

A little like Daniel in the Lion's Den? You bet, but you have to give Ryan credit for facing down what is one of this country's most powerful lobbyists for Obamacare.

That's right.

You're used to thinking of lobbyists as the shadowy guys behind big oil and big banks. I've got news for you; AARP is no different.

The nonprofit is a powerful organization that can make politicians quake in their boot. According to Kimberly Strassel at the Wall Street Journal, the nonprofit representing Americans 50 and older was a critical ally in the President's campaign to get Obamacare passed. She cites 71 pages of emails between the White House and AARP staff in which the outfit's top leaders were well on board, even before critical details of the law, even those pertinent to seniors were crafted.

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The trouble is that the final bill isn't the greatest for seniors. First off, it axes $716 billion from Medicare. Secondly, it downsizes Medicare advantage; a successful drug plan that actually managed to cut program costs by offering seniors choice. Thirdly, it may well lead to rationing, but that is a topic for another day. So, net, net seniors are getting the short end of the stick and now today Sen. Jim Demint who wrote in Politico says dollars and cents may be behind the AARP's move.

“First, while AARP poses as a disinterested senior advocate, it functions as an insurance conglomerate, with a liberal lobbying arm on the side. AARP depends on profits, royalties and commissions to make up more than 50% of its annual revenues. Membership dues from seniors account for only about 20%. The sums involved aren't chump change: AARP's $458 million in health insurance revenue in 2011 would rank it as the nation's sixth most profitable health insurer."

So the next time you see one of those warm and fuzzy ads for AARP, don't be fooled.