AARP comes through in the clutch?

AARP COMES THROUGH IN THE CLUTCH?…. In August, at a town-hall meeting in New Hampshire, President Obama talked about the broad support that exists for health care reform. The coalition, he noted, included the American Medical Association and American Nurses Association. He added, “We have the AARP on board because they know this is a good deal for our seniors…. AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare.”

The White House had to walk the remarks back. The AARP had agreed with the president’s assessment about Medicare policy, and pushed back against bogus conservative claims, but the American Association of Retired Persons had not formally endorsed the reform proposal.

That was in August. Now, it appears the AARP, one of the nation’s largest and most powerful membership organizations, is poised to get off the fence.

Officials are telling The Associated Press that AARP — the seniors’ lobby — will endorse the health care overhaul bill that House Democrats are preparing to take to the floor.

Officials with knowledge of the group’s decision told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the senior’s lobby has decided to give the $1.2 trillion measure its seal of approval. An announcement is expected Thursday.

Politico is reporting the same thing.

If the reports are accurate, the AARP’s endorsement will give reform a considerable boost at a critical time: shortly before the House vote.

One of the more persistent attacks from the right is that reform will somehow be bad for America’s seniors. Formal AARP support for the legislation gives Democrats cover and makes clear that the criticism is unfounded.

Every member of Congress knows that seniors tend to vote in big numbers. Those nervous about their support for reform will be glad to know that the AARP is on their side.