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Mark Tapscott: Obamacare could kill AARP

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Marketing operations don't get any slicker than the one behind AARP. Their invitation to join arrived in my mail box even before I turned 50. I joined for one year, but never renewed because I knew the truth about this famous group.

That truth is this: Millions join AARP and in return receive a host of useful services and resources. But their money and influence are hijacked to support causes that are absolutely inimical to their best interests.

The hijacking is the work of AARP's Washington staff, which is an integral part of the tireless liberal lobbying machine that runs 24/7 in the nation's capital pushing to protect and expand current government entitlements and to create costly new ones.

But AARP's leadership has outsmarted itself by going all out to aid President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in their drive to nationalize America's health care system.

That was predictable, given AARP history. In 2005, AARP led the charge against President Bush's still-born proposal to reform Social Security by allowing younger workers to put a small portion of their contributions into private investment accounts. Two years before that, AARP backed Bush's Prescription Drug Benefit, the largest expansion of the Medicare program since its creation in 1965.

In short, stick around D.C. for any length of time during the past three decades and you likely figured out that AARP's national office was and is today a key player on the side of Big Government, higher taxes and more bureaucracy.

The group has no PAC, which creates a patina of non-partisan respectability, but a look at the political contributions of the people working in AARP's Washington office exposes the real AARP

A. Barry Rand, AARP's CEO, maxed out for Obama in 2008, giving $4,600 to the president's campaign committee and $4,300 to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint production of the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee. And AARP general counsel Joan Wise gave $1,000 to Obama.

But FEC records reveal that big bucks for Obama from Rand and Wise are just the opening line of the AARP story. The following data are for 2006 and 2008 and only for individuals who listed AARP as their employer.

Policy director Jill Fensen gave $300 to Obama, while AARP research director Linda Fisher gave $750 to Obama, $2,300 to Hillary Clinton, and $250 to the Virginia Democratic Party. In 2006, Fisher gave a combined $2,300 to assorted Democratic campaign outlets.

Then there is AARP policy director Enid Kassner who gave Obama $750, AARP health advisor Lee Keiser who gave the DNC $500, AARP strategy consultant Joseph Liu who gave Obama $2,300, and AARP project manager Beth Lazur who gave Obama $1,500.

The list goes on and on: AARP speechwriter Erica Nash-Thomas gave Obama $2,350, AARP consultant Bryan Rawlings gave Obama $1,000, and AARP economist John Turner sent $900 to Hillary Clinton, $1,918 to the DNC, and $426 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. I could keep going here, but you get the picture.

There were a few AARPers here and there who gave to GOP candidates. Matthew Mitchell, who listed himself as an AARP "executive," gave Fred Thompson $1,000, AARP attorney Nancy Bell gave McCain-Palin $500, and AARP accountant Diane Knotts gave $500 to the Republican National Committee. But working for AARP as a Republican must be a lonely experience.

So why could Obamacare be the death of AARP? Among so much else, Obama and AARP promise seniors they can keep their present doctors, but an already worsening national doctor shortage will be made far worse by Obamacare. "Cost-saving" fee reimbursements and increased red tape will drive them out of the profession.

And Obama and AARP promise seniors high-quality care, but the Obamacare reality will be long lines and waiting lists for critical treatment and appointments with specialists here, just like in Canada, Great Britain and every other nation with government-run health care.

Finally, Obamacare will give seniors counseling to help them "consider their options" when their health deteriorates beyond a certain point. That's another way of saying Obamacare bureaucrats pull the plug, regardless of the family's wishes, so get ready.

In short, Obamacare means health care rationing for old folks, the sick and the terminally ill. There will be hell to pay for AARP with its members when this ugly reality becomes crystal clear, as it most certainly will.

Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner and proprietor of Tapscott's Copy Desk blog.

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