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THE AARP AND YOU by Charles R. Morris

THE AARP AND YOU

How America's Most Powerful Lobby Got That Way, and What It Means to You

By Charles R. Morris

Pub Date: July 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-8129-2753-2
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

 A cursory analysis of the structure and financing of Social Security and Medicare masquerading as an unveiling of the AARP. Morris (Computer Wars, not reviewed) focuses briefly on the American Association of Retired Persons' tawdry beginnings as a hawker of insurance for Colonial Penn, looks at its present organization and activities, and concludes that it is now one of the most responsible lobbies in Washington, although it's at risk of becoming ``merely another remnant of the shrinking forces of the . . . paleoliberal left.'' He then turns to his real subject: how Social Security and Medicare came to be the way they are and how these senior entitlements can be sustained, an issue he believes is the major public policy question facing the country. He focuses briefly on the reform attempts of the 1980s and '90s, including the successful restructuring of Social Security by the Greenspan Commission in 1983 and the failure of the Bush-Darman deficit reduction package in 1990. In Morris's view, Social Security is fundamentally sound and its actuarial integrity can be maintained with a little astute tinkering. Medicare, he admits, is a bigger problem but by no means a crisis. Arguing that continued rapid growth of the health care industry is good for the economy, he issues repeated warnings against unrealistic attempts at comprehensive health care reform. Instead, policy makers should take the unglamorous approach of hammering out practical, piecemeal reforms. Not wanting to leave these to ``the boys in the back room and the silk-suited corporate lobbyists,'' he offers his own list of suggested reforms. Although the promise of the title is not kept, tucked away in an appendix are some informative assessments of AARP's principal products, such as various types of insurance, mutual funds, and travel discounts. (Author tour)