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AARP to 'super committee': Hands off Social Security and Medicare

September 21, 2011|By Michael Muskal | Los Angeles Times
  • President Obama participates in an AARP "tele-town hall" meeting in 2008. The AARP wants to hold similar meetings with members of the select congressional committee that is looking for deep deficit reductions.
President Obama participates in an AARP "tele-town hall" meeting… (Ron Sachs / Pool )

AARP,  which lobbies on behalf of seniors, has launched a television campaign designed to persuade members of the congressional "super committee" charged with finding $1.5 trillion worth of deficit reduction to leave Social Security and Medicare alone.

The national ad campaign — to air on NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News — targets the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. The committee has a broad mandate and can consider spending cuts, tax overhaul and cuts in entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare in putting together a package worth $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

“Our members and average Americans, like those featured in this ad, have worked hard over their lifetimes and depend on the Medicare and Social Security benefits they have earned for their health and retirement security,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president. “Seniors, who have average incomes of under $20,000, want their elected leaders to cut waste and tax loopholes, not their hard-earned benefits.”

According to the ad’s script, the pitch is that Social Security payments have been earned by a lifetime of work and that Medicare, the health insurance plan for seniors, is paid by participants.

“My heart medication isn’t some political game,” the ad script says. “I worked hard. “I paid into my Medicare .… And I earned my Social Security .… Now, instead of cutting waste and loopholes, Washington wants to cut our benefits? That wasn’t the agreement.”

In addition to the ad, AARP state leaders have invited members of the committee to participate in "tele-town hall" meetings to hear older Americans discuss the entitlement programs. AARP said its members have already participated in more than 100 such town hall-style meetings with congressional representatives.

The committee must return finalize its recommendations by Nov. 23 and Congress must vote on them by Dec. 23. If Congress is unable to act, spending cuts worth $1.2 trillion would automatically be triggered.

michael.muskal@latimes.com

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