Senior lobby promotes effort against Medicare cuts

"Washington may not like straight talk, but I do," a middle-aged woman says in a mock town-hall meeting filmed for the spot.

The site aggregates materials associated with AARP's "You've Earned a Say" campaign, launched in March as a series of surveys, listening sessions and other events to fight cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

The group is not seen universally as impartial, however — especially in the context of debates over how to control Medicare costs.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) political group attacked AARP last year as a "left-leaning pressure group." Republicans have also slammed the group for supporting healthcare reforms, alleging that it stands to gain financially from certain portions of the administration's reform law.

"Last week, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), a left-leaning pressure group with significant business interests in the insurance industry, launched a national ad campaign that intentionally misleads seniors about the Medicare debate," Pat Shortridge, a senior adviser to Ryan's PAC, wrote in an email to supporters on May 9, 2011.

Under Ryan's House-passed budget, which AARP opposed, future seniors would be given the option of receiving subsidies to buy private insurance rather than remain in the traditional fee-for-service program. 


AARP responded to Shortridge's email, calling the criticism nonsense.

"The truth is that the budget plan passed by the House probably would present more opportunities for AARP to strengthen its finances, since every older American would be forced into private Medicare plans, including those that AARP brands," Jim Dau, a spokesman for the group, said in a statement.

"We opposed the legislation nonetheless because we believe the goal should be to strengthen Medicare, not upend it," he said.

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