AARP Tug of War – Obama Pulls Harder & Wins over Powerful Lobby
On the eve of the historic House Congressional vote on the wobbly healthcare reform bill, President Obama managed one last pull at the AARP, but may not have saved its members from falling into the verbal mud pit in the long tug-of-war over the Affordable Healthcare for Americans Act. By his own admission, AARP CEO Barry Rand knows his 40 million members are still very much split down the middle in their support. This leaves the President wiping his brow while leaving Rand in the awkward position of posing for the photo-op while crossing his fingers behind his back. The near-finalized bill will hit the House floor on Saturday night for a vote.
“As members of the House gear up for this historic vote, they will hear from older Americans,” said Rand, in a prepared statement announcing the endorsement. Although Rand said this marks the first time the AARP has put its “full weight behind a comprehensive health care reform package,” he’s likely to find more raucous town hall style debates swarming around retirement homes after the vote and regardless of the outcome. That’s because by all accounts on Capitol Hill, the Senate and the House are miles apart on the road to reform. Somehow, some way, there’s got to be another lane built on the highway to accommodate both parties’ differences.
“It is not enough in our eyes just to say we endorse a particular piece of legislation and expect that all the dominos will fall into place as a result,” Sam Wilson, the chief AARP rep in South Dakota tells the Daily Republic today.
Right now, the ropes in this tug-of-war are wearing thin. Parties on both sides are gonna need gloves to avoid further rope burns. Whether or not the holy grail of health reform — the so-called Public Option — remains in the final bill is sitting squarely in the mud pit.