A normal political party expects that outside groups might be on their side on some issues and on the opposing side on other issues. For example, Democrats were willing to work with the AARP on health care reform despite being on opposing sides on the Medicare D plan. However, authoritarian groups such as the Republican Party do not play by the usual rules by which political parties operate in a democracy. For Republicans, to oppose their wishes on one issue brings the risk of retaliation. To cross the Republicans is like crossing Tony Soprano. The latest target of the Republicans is the AARP for their support of health care reform. Roll Call reports:
Republicans have launched an assault on AARP, which joins a growing list of groups supportive of the Democrats’ agenda that are being targeted by conservatives.
House Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday released a report that accuses the influential senior citizens organization of having a conflict of interest because it will financially benefit from the health care overhaul that the group heavily lobbied for last year. AARP collects royalties from endorsing health insurance policies and other products…
A GOP lobbyist suggested that the report is part of a pattern of House Republicans going after groups that worked against them on key legislation when they were out of power.
“There is certainly a sense of getting back at some of those groups that supported” health care reform, said Chris Lamond, a Republican lobbyist with Thorn Run Partners. “It is a little bit like, ‘We are in charge of the House side, we are going to hold their feet to the fire.’”
AARP officials disputed the Republicans’ contention that AARP’s policy decisions are driven by business interests.
“We are not an insurance company,” President Lee Hammond said. He noted that the 37-million-member group has opposed legislation supported by the insurance industry. Hammond also said the group had been in regular discussions with the IRS, which had not expressed any problem with the group’s tax-exempt status.
Attacking seniors could be politically risky for Republicans as elderly whites are often their strongest supporters. On the other hand, recent polls are showing an increase in support for Obama among the young.