Spokespersons for the AARP are in damage control mode after The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the organization, which claims to lobby on behalf of older Americans, “is dropping its longstanding opposition to cutting Social Security benefits.”

The group now states that it is opposed to the inclusion of cuts to Social Security in the debt ceiling debate, but has made it clear that it is open to other adjustments in the way seniors’ benefits are calculated. Shocked and angry critics say the proposed changes will have the same impact as straightforward cuts: reducing the amount of financial help retired seniors receive. –ARK

The Huffington Post:

While AARP says it is adamantly opposed to having Social Security in the debt ceiling discussion, the group is open to separate negotiations on changes in things like the retirement age or the formula for calculating benefits to maintain the long-term solvency of the Social Security trust fund. Such changes are tantamount to benefit cuts if they reduce the total amount retirees receive.

The $2.6 trillion Social Security trust fund is on pace to run out of money in 2036, at which point incoming payroll contributions will only be able to pay 77 percent of promised benefits. As of April, 35 million seniors received Social Security retirement benefits averaging $1,179 a month, according to the program’s latest monthly snapshot.

… AARP says it is willing to negotiate possible benefit cuts, so long as they are not tied to the larger debt reduction negotiations — and that it has always been open to reducing benefits. This came as a shock to several other Social Security advocates. Alliance for Retired Americans Executive Director Ed Coyle said if AARP had been open to cuts all along, “to me, that’s news.”

Read more

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig