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AARP emphasizes nonpartisan stance
Obama cited senior citizen’s lobby on health care law in debate
Question of the Day
It was especially clear on Thursday that the AARP’s work promoting President Obama’s health care law has become a sticky wicket for the powerful senior citizen’s lobby.
While the AARP was one of the loudest proponents of the 2010 overhaul, the group quickly backed away from Mr. Obama after he invoked it to defend the law during Wednesday night’s presidential debate, insisting it’s a nonpartisan group that doesn’t allow politicians to use its name.
But House Republicans have demanded proof from the AARP that it didn’t coordinate with the Obama administration to help get the law passed — and now, so has one of the group’s former state presidents.
Charles Landry, who served as president of the Louisiana AARP from 2008 to 2010, told The Washington Times that AARP leaders were so anxious to back the health care reform being proposed by Mr. Obama that they ignored members who opposed the law while pressuring them to support it.
Open about the fact that he opposes the law and wants it repealed, Mr. Landry said he felt so disenfranchised by the organization’s national leaders that he has now resigned his membership entirely and is demanding that they make public any emails, phone calls and other correspondence exchanged with the administration.
“I can remember when they started to be summoned to the White House,” Mr. Landry said, referring to CEO Barry Rand and Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond. “I was raising questions and I got them to admit in one of the meetings they had never read [the bill].”
Mr. Landry wrote a letter last week to Louisiana congressman and physician Charles Boustany, who joined several other Republican members of Congress last June to demand that AARP explain whether it lobbied for the law on behalf of the White House and whether it went against the wishes of its members.
“There was also no transparency by AARP regarding the outpouring of concern and negative reaction by citizens to the reform act,” Mr. Landry wrote. “Most of us did know and hear from many who canceled their membership at AARP.”
The AARP answered some of the questions in a July letter, highlighting a member survey conducted during the early stages of the health care debate, which showed that 66 percent of AARP members strongly or somewhat favored a plan similar to the law that was eventually passed.
But the Republicans say they’re still waiting on some of the answers, and blasted the AARP on Thursday for its claims to be bipartisan.
“I believe my former patients deserve answers as to why their advocacy organization is answering to the White House, rather than its members,” said Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey. “I applaud Mr. Landry’s efforts to seek the truth from AARP and encourage others to more fully scrutinize their deal with the White House as well.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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