RETRIBUTION POLITICS: HOUSE GOP STILL TARGETING AARP…. The AARP backed the Affordable Care Act, which clearly enraged congressional Republicans. For that matter, the GOP intends to launch a crusade against entitlements, including Medicare, and would love to weaken the AARP in advance of the debate, since the organization is likely to be a fierce opponent of the far-right plan.

Still, it’s one thing to expect retribution politics; it’s another to see it unfold.

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.

The report, which also notes the generous salary and travel benefits of AARP executives, questions the tax-exempt status of the organization; the Members are forwarding the report to the IRS for review. […]

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.

Ya think?

First, House Republicans announce they’re going to drag AARP officials to a hearing so that conservatives can yell at them for a few hours. Second, these same House Republicans now want the Internal Revenue Service to launch a probe, based on nothing but imaginary schemes only the far-right can see.

Subtle, this isn’t. It’s little more than Republicans again acting like thugs — the GOP wants to punish groups that have disagreed with them, and like any effective organized crime family, send a message to other groups who might consider cooperating with Democrats in the future.

In case there are any doubts, this isn’t a two-way street. The AARP sided with Republicans on Medicare Part D, much to Democrats’ chagrin, but there was no payback when Dems reclaimed the majority. That’s just not how Dems operate — they’d rather govern than punish former rivals who might become allies.

But Republicans bring a very different approach to the table.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.