If you’re a member of the AARP and you’re not a Democrat, then you’re being swindled. The above ad was produced by the AARP in support of proposed financial reforms, and it is just the latest demonstration of the AARP’s commitment to liberal policy-making. After selling their support for a huge kickback in the health insurance market, AARP is once again fully in the tank for Obama—with or without the support of their members.
While the AARP apparently doesn’t make direct political contributions, they’ve spent just shy of $128,000,000 on lobbying over the past five years. That’s roughly 25.6 million per year. The AARP has spent 2.3 times more on lobbying than Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America combined, and that doesn’t even include the amounts they’ve spent on advertisements like the one above. So much for “big banks flooding Washington with lobbyists.” It looks more like they’re struggling to fight the rising tide of misappropriated membership dues.
While the AARP accuses the banking industry of mismanaging funds, it’s interesting to note that the organization could have used their lobbying budget to fully pay for one out of every 340 hip replacements performed in the United States each year. That would do far more to help seniors than their current agenda.
Apart from the political implications, the financial reform ad also reveals either a startling misunderstanding Wall Street’s daily grind, or a willingness to deceive the public. I’m leaning towards the latter. “Massive Bonuses” are an easy target, but what most people fail to realize is that many Wall Street employees are essentially non-salaried. Far from an unearned perk, the bonuses Obama has been targeting represent a large portion of the employee’s salary. And many of the most vilified bonuses, bonuses that were granted in the wake of the bailout, were “retention bonuses” paid to employees who were essentially hired to liquidate a firm’s troubled departments. When a business goes south, someone has to shut it down, and they aren’t going to do it for free.
Then there’s the financial reform legislation itself which the Heritage Foundation described as “blocking innovation, not meltdowns.” Just like the Health “reform,” the proposed financial overhaul centralizes control and grants vast new regulatory power to the federal government. The changes will undoubtedly have a major impact on U.S. citizens’ ability to save for retirement. If the AARP is going to be lobbying at all, they should be pushing for consumer-oriented policies that increase choice and competition to bring about better financial products. Instead, they’re backing another power-grab, and boxing small players out of the market.
/********** Update: 5/1/2010 **********
I was finally able to capture the radio version of this advertisement. It is embedded below and contains extra attacks on the banks’ “reckless behavior” while disregarding Congress’ incessant meddling.