WASHINGTON — In the battle over the Republican budget plan that passed the House Friday, Democratic insiders have been left wondering why the American Association of Retired Persons, the powerful lobby for older Americans and the defender of all things Medicare, has been largely sitting on the sidelines.
After all, the budget proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), if signed into law, would slash Medicare and convert it to a system of government subsidies for private insurance. AARP has put out a statement raising concerns about that plan and fired up an email campaign to oppose it, but several Democratic operatives said they had hoped the lobby would do much more.
For his part, AARP spokesman James Dau insisted the lobby was fully engaged, contacting every House member and generating 126,000 grassroots emails opposing the Ryan budget in just 48 hours. “AARP has been working at the national and grassroots levels fighting against threats to critical lifeline programs like Social Security and Medicare since the deficit debate began more than a year ago,” Dau said.