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Austin Braham
The American Association of Retired Persons is a powerful special interest group that protects the interests of retirees across the US by lobbying politicians to pass legislation in the organization’s favor. Inside you will find detailed information outlining AARP’s mission, purpose, and scope.

Austin Braham
The American Association of Retired Persons is a powerful special interest group that protects the interests of retirees across the US by lobbying politicians to pass legislation in the organization’s favor. Inside you will find detailed information outlining AARP’s mission, purpose, and scope.

Politicians are elected in part on the basis of the issues by which they stand, and these issues are either held up or weakened by numerous interest groups that exist today. Interest groups target both major and minor issues, using all of their resources to sponsor or overpower the groups' concern. Interest groups are composed of a limited range of the body of voters who have a great stake in the issues that their group supports. It is made clear and evident which issues their group supports. Resources are used in an attempt to make their interests public policy. Interest groups are persistent; they do not give up until they succeed and they lobby congress, take legal action, and attempt to influence election results in order to benefit their cause. One such political interest group is the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons). Founded in 1958 by Ethel Percy Andrus PhD, a retired educator from California based in Washington DC, the AARP has been successful in recruiting members and achieving many of its goals of creating better benefits and protections through legislation, that aid retired persons age 50 and over. By utilizing advertising tools such as television, radio, and the media, the AARP has proven itself to be a serious political interest group that is not to be ignored. The AARP has grown through the years and now reports to have 30 million members, and four thousand chapters nationwide.
The AARP is unlike any other special interest group mainly because it is a non-profit organization. Its three main policy goals are:
1. Economic security for the elderly
2. Affordable comprehensive health care for all
3. Improvements in attitudes regarding the elderly in the workplace

Research on elderly needs and the state of the economy, as well as a large volunteer network all help the AARP to influence thousands of potential members each year. It is the oldest, most successful, and largest interest group to date. The AARP’s principle political interest is to secure positive legislative action by Congress for its members. The group’s size and clout make it the sole interest group which advocates for older-age American interests. Efforts are focused on five major fields of policy concerns which are: A). Medicare; B). Social security; C). Tax reform; D). Long term health care; E). Campaign finance reform.
Due to the escalation of Medicare fraud, which costs tax payers tens of billions of dollars and drives up healthcare costs, AARP successfully lobbied for an initiative that "Declared War" on Medicare fraud. Currently, there are two Medicare-related bills in legislation which are aimed at keeping members’ personal information secure and recognizing false claims, before paying them. The AARP has made other conservative choices like defending the status quo rather than advocating new social causes. It appears the AARP is now more concerned with maintaining organizational fidelity than pursuing advocacy. The organization is further restricted in its advocacy by the broad diversity of viewpoints it represents. One of the primary ways the AARP influences policy is through voter influences. This is done in the form of election forums and distribution of voter guides. The AARP continuously holds election forums to discuss and inform voters on candidate stances on issues that affect its members.

Another tool used by the AARP to inform its members and potential supporters is the distribution of pro-AARP propaganda. Distribution of articles and journals allow AARP to increase its influence on American voters. There’s a contract with AOL offering members a ten-percent discount which is advertised through AOL Software and is distributed to millions throughout the United States. This practice allows AARP to contact more voters and members than in previous years. All practice enable the AARP to influence decisions of voters, which in turn affect the policy making process in their favor. Sponsoring political debates is another strategy used which enables the AARP to convey their message in the form of advertising during commercial breaks in the debate. Most of the AARP's influence is conveyed through approximately twenty-second advertisement spots, which sum up the organization's beliefs. In order for the AARP to achieve its political goals, it is vital that they are able to influence public opinion. The primary way the group goes about this is by producing and airing major television programs that focus on issues such as federal tax reform and social security. Without the media, the AARP would have far less impact on political decision-making. Recently, the AARP has come under scrutiny of the United States Senate, led by Senator Alan K. Simpson, a republican from Wyoming. The senator questions the AARP’s status as a non-profit organization benefited by a tax exemption and unlimited lobbying privileges. In addition, Senator Simpson questions the non-partisan nature of the group by stating that the organization imposes a policy agenda on an unwilling membership.

The AARP acknowledges that although it is difficult to rally members composed of such a great diversity of viewpoints, it will continue lobbying support for its members while maintaining a position of political relevance. Whatever the case, the AARP has established a proven track record over the past 53 years of being an aggressive special interest group that goes above and beyond to ensure benefits of its member are secured through legislation.


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