Republicans take aim at AARP

REPUBLICANS TAKE AIM AT AARP…. I suppose this was inevitable.

Newly empowered House Republicans are getting ready to renew their attacks against AARP over its support for the healthcare reform law, The Hill has learned.

The Ways and Means health and oversight subcommittees are hauling in the seniors lobby’s executives before the panel for an April 1 hearing on how the group stands to benefit from the law, among other topics. Republicans say AARP supported the law’s $200 billion in cuts to the Medicare Advantage program because it stands to gain financially as seniors replace their MA plans with Medicare supplemental insurance — or Medigap — policies endorsed by the association.

The hearing will cover not only Medigap but “AARP’s organizational structure, management, and financial growth over the last decade.”

It’s what House GOP majorities tend to best: identify rivals, launch fishing expeditions, stay on the offensive.

I spoke to AARP spokesperson Drew Nannis, who told me, “AARP has a long-standing and good working relationship with Congress and we look forward to appearing before the Committee on behalf of our millions of members, and the entire 50+ population, on April 1st. AARP is committed to transparency, and the hearing will provide us yet another opportunity to answer any questions as we continue to be a champion for the wants and needs of Americans 50-plus.”

Given the larger context, the hearing makes quite a bit of sense. AARP supported passage of the Affordable Care Act — which, among other things, made it tougher for Republicans to argue that the reform measure was bad for seniors and Medicare — so the new House majority finds it necessary to target the massive organizations. It’s retribution politics at its most obvious.

But also note that these same House Republicans intend, very soon, to launch a crusade against entitlements, including Medicare, as part of a larger budget strategy. With the AARP all but certain to oppose the GOP schemes, it also stands to reason that Republicans would want to undermine the credibility and standing of the powerful group that stands in the party’s way.

It’s thuggish behavior on the part of congressional Republicans, but it’s also predictable.

Update: For the record, the notion that the AARP supported the Affordable Care Act in the hopes of financial gain appears to be baseless — Republicans are grasping at straws — and by all appearances it’s just a pretext to harangue the organization at a public hearing.