Tossing 80% of RI Seniors Overboard: The AARP of RI Has Become A Pyranha in Sheep’s Clothing

Even sharpened up, that cliche may not adequately describe the the duplicitious nature and predatory intent of the AARP’s testimony this week against pension reform.

… Many have asked why AARP is engaged in this discussion. AARP Rhode Island’s advocacy on this bill fits into AARP’s broader, national campaign to Protect Seniors from fiscal instability caused by cuts in retirement income, Social Security and Medicare. AARP advocates for older Americans nationwide, asserting that we all have a right to be self-reliant and live with dignity in retirement. AARP maintains that modifications to pension plans should have the key objective of holding harmless current beneficiaries and employees, as well as ensuring the retirement security needs of future employees.

So mendacious and misleading. The AARP has 135,000 members in Rhode Island. Yet with this testimony, the AARP is, in fact, advocating only for the 26,000 public retirees who would be affected by the proposed reform. That equates to a maximum of 20% of AARP members in Rhode Island. (Thanks to North Kingstown Rep Larry Ehrhardt for bringing these figures forward on WPRO’s Buddy Cianci Show.)
Now for the predatory part. If no pension reform is implemented, taxes will go up even higher than with pension reform. As the AARP is advocating against pension reform, they are pushing for 80% of its members to pay more money for the benefit of 20% of its membership.
How can the AARP claim to be representing its members when it is advocating for something that would clearly be detrimental to 80% of its members?
And that 20% is most likely on the high side. Keep in mind that due to one of the unsustainable terms of state pensions – no minimum age to start collecting – some retirees are too young to qualify for membership in the AARP. So in some cases, the AARP-RI is advocating for non-members against the better interest of its own members!
As of 2000, Rhode Island had the sixth highest population of seniors. Quoting Ms. Connell’s testimony, AARP might advocate for “older Americans nationwide”. But in Rhode Island, the organization advocates for a special, small group of Rhode Islanders, older and not so much, quite literally at the expense of 80% of the state’s older residents.

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9 years ago

Kathleen Connell is the head of AARP RI.
She is also retired from Newport School Dist.:
Age at Retirement: 56
Current age: 74
Estimated Past Payments: $653,621
2010 Gross Pension: $46,528
Est. Future Payments: $566,669
Est. Future Payments with COLA: $672,064
Total Pension Payments: $1,325,686
No wonder her bloomers are in a bunch!

9 years ago

“we all have a right to be self-reliant”
How is tapping the well of taxpayers to the tune of several times more than initially promised ‘self-reliance’?
Would it be -so bad- to index COLAs to the CPI and change the earliest ‘full-payment’ retirement age to 62? At least for a decade or two so we can catch up? In the meantime, focus on savings and keeping the people who would have retired at 55 busy by putting them to work in back-office parts of departments.

9 years ago

Unfortunately, especially on the national level, the AARP has largely become a force for maintaining the status-quo at all costs.
Here’s yet another large influence group — (some unions fit the bill as well), as to nearly 100% of traditional lobbyist organizations on K Street — which has become so bloated and top-heavy that it has completely forgotten the common good. In this case, they’ve seemingly even forgotten the long-term good of their direct constituents.

Bucket Chick
Bucket Chick
9 years ago

I’d be interested to know if the AARP’s position on this local issue is based on a poll of RI’ers or just a flat out policy decision. My dad is a member and a small business owner. He’s 70 and still working, trying to make a go of things in a very difficult economy. How is the AARP looking after his interests?

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