Sen. Russell Long on tax reform: "Don't tax you, don't tax me. Tax that fellow behind the tree." - AARP Opposing All Medicare Cuts
AARP and other seniors groups have drawn a hard line against major changes to entitlement programs, a stance that could complicate the White House and Congress's efforts to strike a budget deal.
The main lobbying groups for older Americans say they are opposed to any changes in Medicare and Medicaid that would cut benefits or increase costs for those participating in the two government-run health programs. They also oppose cuts to Social Security, as they did in 2005, though changes to that program have received less attention in deficit-reduction talks.
The power of AARP gives it considerable muscle in shaping a package to avert the tax increases and spending cuts set to begin next year. Founded in 1958, the group evolved from an association to help retired teachers get health insurance into a lobbying juggernaut that now counts 37 million members.
The White House leaned heavily on AARP to help make a case to seniors that the 2010 health overhaul wouldn't harm Medicare. Many seniors didn't buy it, and the group has said that its support for the law cost it about 300,000 members.
Last year, its longtime policy chief John Rother quit after suggesting that some cuts in Social Security benefits could be acceptable.