How AARP Can REALLY Help Seniors and Retirees

9:36 am in Uncategorized by Brian Sonenstein

In response to AARP’s narrow questionnaire and possible leanings toward supporting benefit cuts, Firedoglake has teamed up with CREDO Action, National Organization for Women, Social Security Works and other organizations to launch our own version of the AARP’s “You’ve Earned a Say” survey, slightly modified to be more precise and more inclusive of all views on the future of Social Security and Medicare.

Firedoglake collected over 9,000 responses this weekend, and we’re running ads and circulating the survey to hear from as many people as possible. Once we’ve all collected our responses, our coalition will publish the results in full– but until then, I wanted to offer a peek at some of the results we’ve received thus far.

If you haven’t taken our survey on the future of Social Security and Medicare benefits, you may do so here.

Question #4 on AARP’s Survey reads:

When it comes to securing the future of Medicare and Social Security, which of the following do you expect:
A: More funding will be needed to maintain the same benefits
B: Benefits will be reduced
C: Either A or B
D: None of the above

This question is one of the most skewed on AARP’s survey, offering no opportunities for the individual to expect or hope for benefit increases– only a status quo described as hard to maintain, or worse. The question also lumps together Social Security and Medicare – two different programs with different needs. These are not good baseline options for defending Social Security and Medicare, and its hard to imagine this question producing an honest response from participants.

To get a better idea of what people really think about the future of Social Security and Medicare, we broke it in two: one on Social Security, one on Medicare. We also asked what folks wanted on this issue from AARP specifically, as well as added an option for people to express their desire for expanded benefits and cost controls – not just the same benefits, less benefits or higher taxes.

Here’s what came back:

When it comes to securing the future of Social Security, which of the following do you want AARP to fight for? AARP Member Non-Member Overall
More funding to maintain or possibly increase benefits 86.7% 89.6% 87.9%
A combination of tax increases and benefits cuts. 4.4% 3.4% 3.9%
Benefit cuts without tax increases 0.2% 0.4% 0.3%
None of the above 8.8% 6.7% 7.9%

 

When it comes to securing the future of Medicare, which of the following do you want AARP to fight for? AARP Member Non-Member Overall
Reduced benefits 0.2% 0.2% 0.2%
Expanding benefits by requiring everyone to pay somewhat more. 21.5% 24% 22.6%
Stronger and better cost controls on insurers, and hospitals, and other health care providers 72.6% 69% 71.1%
None of the above 5.7% 6.8% 6.2%

I was unable to locate any published results of AARP’s “You’ve Earned a Say” online questionnaire, but it’s clear from our sample that regardless of membership in the organization, folks aren’t content with the status quo and they certainly don’t want less. In fact, they want the nation’s largest, wealthiest elderly advocate to go out there and demand more on their behalf.

Our survey is still wide open, so click here to fill it out if you haven’t already. We’ll continue to monitor AARP’s “You’ve Earned A Say” tour and will keep you updated on results from our coalition survey.