- WND - http://www.wnd.com -
AARP facing challenge for influence on seniors
Posted By Michael Carl On 10/28/2012 @ 6:33 pm In Faith,Front Page,Health,Politics,U.S. | No Comments
For decades, senior Americans have seen the ads and the promotional announcements telling them there was only one organization with the power and influence to represent their issues to the federal government.
But that’s no longer the case.
There are other groups and charitable organizations devoted to helping seniors get the services they need and protect their interests in Congress, including the Association of Mature American Citizens, or AMAC.
CEO Sam Hassel, a former radio station general manager and Salem Radio Network national sales representative, says his group has increased membership rapidly in the past two years.
Hasell said the reason for his group’s membership rise is simple – Obamacare.
“The AARP with Obamacare came out very openly against popular senior opinions,” he said.
“If you recall the big town hall meetings in 2009, a lot of people have forgotten that most of those meetings were, the AARP organized those town hall meetings,” Hassell said.
“They (the AARP) were absolutely in support of Obamacare while a lot of their members were not. Definitely their market segment was not. You’ve got a tremendous amount of disgruntled clients, customers, that the AARP seems not only not to care about that, but the AARP has snubbed their nose at their membership,” Hassell said.
“This goes back to something I’ve believed for a long time. The AARP seems to believe they’re bullet-proof when it comes to their activities. They have a brand that is so entrenched. In American, they’re an icon,” Hassell said.
“Americans believe the icon and they don’t see the reality of what the AARP has become,” Hassell said.
AARP did not answer WND’s requests for an interview for this story.
Hassell explained that the AARP stands almost in complete opposition to the prevailing opinions of its target audience, which he says is by and large the most conservative demographic group in the U. S.
“We believe in traditional American values, and that’s what we’re fighting for, traditional American values. And I think that message is resonating with seniors, who are according to Gallup polls, are 81 percent moderate to conservative with 41 percent considering themselves extremely conservative,” Hassell said.
“That’s a number that’s been consistent for the past 20 years. The older an American gets the more conservative they become,” Hassell said. “So at the end of the day, the AARP is ideologically, diametrically opposed to their market.”
“We are ideologically in-step with our market,” Hassell said.
Hassell said his group is catching on across the country and that AMAC has attracted some high-profile attention.
The group has also attracted the attention of conservative activists like Bill O’Reilly, Mark Levin, former senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum, Bill Bennett and WND CEO Joseph Farah.
Hassel is pleased that his group is getting attention from opinion makers.
“We are beginning to get noticed and that’s important when you’re taking on what may be the single, strongest, unopposed lobbying group in America,” Hassel said.
Hassell said that one of the biggest hurdles is getting AMAC’s name before the public.
Heritage Foundation health policy analyst Bob Moffit says that he believes AMAC’s is growing because alternatives to AARP are rare.
“In the past others tried to create alternatives to AARP that represented a conservative point of view, but they failed,” Moffit said.
Moffit, a former deputy assistant secretary of health and human services, says that AARP is known for being “left of center.”
“Everybody knows that people over the age of 65 are not leftists and are not liberals,” Moffit says.
“It’s a diverse group for the most part, but you’re most likely to find conservatives in that group. The disconnect between the AARP and its membership has been noted before,” Moffit said.
Moffit added that one explanation for the AARP’s liberal views is the management. He saig the group is run largely by Baby Boomers.
Hassel believes AMAC may be the most important new conservative organization in America.
“AMAC is definitely on a mission and we could very well become the most important new conservative organization in America,” Hassel said.
“We are striving to give opposition to the powerful voice of the AARP. The AARP is arguably the most powerful, unopposed lobby in the country. There are a couple of other organizations that have been at work in Washington for the past several decades, but none that has significantly challenged the AARP,” Hassel said.
“When the AARP say they speak for every senior in America, which they say confidently, the lawmakers in Washington, D.C., listen to them even though in all actuality they (the AARP) only represent a small percentage of Americans over 50,” Hassel said.
“Our mission is to make sure that the leaders understand that AARP doesn’t speak for all seniors and we’re beginning to make that message heard and understood,” Hassel said.
Both Hassel and Moffit say that AARP is nearly singularly responsible for the passage of Obamacare. Hassell cites the fact that the only group former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi thanked from the House floor was the AARP.
Moffit said that during President Reagan’s administration, the AARP’s influence was responsible for a major change to one of Reagan’s senior assistance proposals.
“Reagan came up with a very modest proposal for a supplementary insurance plan. Liberal Democrats in Congress took the Reagan initiative and basically twisted it beyond recognition,” Moffit said.
“They added a lot of benefits to it, including a prescription drug benefit, and essentially added a tax to fund it. The AARP fully supported the tax in the bill,” Moffit said.
“What happened is that this thing was supported overwhelmingly in the House. There was reluctance from the administration to support it, but Reagan eventually signed it anyway,” Moffit said.
“The AARP was fully supportive of the catastrophic act. But what happened was that the AARP membership in the states protested the bill and started a revolution in the ranks and the organization became very unpopular the more the details of that bill came out,” Moffit said.
“The amazing thing is that most of the senior staff people in the AARP kept their jobs after this,” Moffit said.
The senior issues analysts said that most Americans probably don’t know some of the other policy initiatives the AARP directly or indirectly supports.
“The AARP supported Obamacare, a provision of which is federally funded abortions,” Hassel said. “I don’t personally have the heart to add on the AARP’s support for federally funded abortions. But, if you Google Catholics versus AARP, and the word abortion, you would find a tremendous amount of information on it.”
Another issue quietly supported by AARP is the anti-gun Brady Bill.
“How does support for the strengthening of the Brady Bill help seniors? It doesn’t. They do that too, though if you read their official position, you’ll see they don’t publicly endorse it,” Hassel said.
“A lot of what they do is very subtle and very much involves the use of the mainstream media,” Hassel said.
“AMAC is being recognized in Washington – recently met with Sen. Hutchison, Rep. Price, chief economist of U.S. Senate, Newt Gingrich, etc. Have presented legislation to fix Social Security, led a fight to Block The Mosque, leading fight to Repeal and Replace,” Hassel said.
“We already offer a majority of the benefits that the AARP offers. You can already the supplementary health insurance policies through us, auto, home, life, health,” Hassel said.
“All of the insurance products we already have at very competitive rates. We already have a lot of the ancillary type-benefits and discounts that seniors want and need and we’re able to offer them at a price that helps their pocketbook,” Hassell said.
“At the end of the day, while AMAC is a for-profit company, and we come right out and say that we’re for-profit, we are definitely political. I think that is the strength that we have. We don’t have to hide behind a non-profit status, which we don’t have to be non-partisan,” Hassel said.
Article printed from WND: http://www.wnd.com
URL to article: http://www.wnd.com/2012/10/aarp-facing-challenge-for-influence-on-seniors/
© Copyright 1997-2013. All Rights Reserved. WND.com.