The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)


Founded in 1958 by Dr. Ethel Percy, the American Association of Retired
Persons (AARP) has been dedicated to addressing the needs and interests of older
Americans. Percy felt that older Americans could attain a sense of
satisfaction and fulfillment by remaining physically and intellectually active
in society, thus came about his idea to form the AARP. The AARP is a nonprofit,
nonpartisan, membership organization open to anyone, working or retired, over
the age of 50. Based in Wash-ington, D.C., the AARP pursues its goals through
service, advocacy, and education. The AARP\'s ultimate goal is to help older
Americans achieve lives of independence, dignity, and purpose. The AARP is
spread nation wide through local chapters and is run mainly by volunteer board
members at the local and national levels.
The 33 million members of the AARP can expect many benefits as well as
support from the AARP. The wide range of services span anywhere from movie
tickets to grants for re-search. The AARP also has many publications in the
form of audio and publications. The most famous of these publications is the
bimonthly Modern Maturity which targets all readers inter-ested in AARP issues.

The issues and goals the AARP advocates span a great deal throughout the
political, economic, and social arena. While diverse in its areas of interest,
the AARP mainly concentrates on social issues. Being a nonpartisan organization,
the AARP does not nationally endorse or contribute any money to the campaigns
of any candidate running for national positions including presidency. Politics
in the AARP is basically left to the individual to decide whom he/she will
support. The only participation the AARP takes is through the AARP/VOTE program.
The goals of the AARP/VOTE program are to educate AARP members and the general
public about important economic, health and consumer issues, and about the
positions taken by candidates for public office on these issues. They also
inform candidates and elected officials of AARP\'s positions on key policy issues
and help elected officials be more responsive to the needs of their districts
or states by promoting effective communication with their constituents.
AARP/VOTE is successful because of its effective methods used to bring the
candidate and constituent closer together. They use techniques such as
candidate forums where the candidates visit local chapters, questionnaires that
candidates fill out, and voter registration drives. Besides the AARP/Vote
program, the AARP gets through political pressure from the grass roots level by
a well structured system of events. This system of events can be summarized in
four basic steps. The first being Obtaining Member Input. This step involves
the local level members providing input about legislative issues of concern in
any area. The input is provided in form of thousands of letters of concern
which is reviewed by the National Legislative Council of the AARP. If enough
support for an issue is found to be present among the majority of the members
then it goes on to the next step which is the Decision Making of the National
Legislative Council and Board of Directors. At this level, the National Council
and Board of directors decide which issues to support and include these new
issues into the AARP\'s federal and state policy agenda for the year. The
Council and Board interact with Congressional and government leaders. Leaders
read over and respond to the AARP\'s policy and debate over issues of concern.
Once revisions are made to the policy agenda, a final draft is made and is
distributed in many forms to anyone interested. The third step, Disseminating
and Implementing Legislative Policy, includes lobbying in Washington D.C. and
testifying regularly on Capitol Hill about the AARP\'s federal and state policy
for that year. While action is being taken in Washington, the AARP is also
educating members on the new policy. The final step would be Ongoing Policy
Analysis. At this level the AARP reviews and analyses federal response policies
to see if they are consistent with AARP policy. Recommendations are logged into
a working draft of the upcoming year\'s policy book and the process of
interacting with the federal government starts all over again.
The AARP is concerned with economic issues such as the financing of
Social Security and Medicare, trust funds, the federal deficit, and COLAs or
Cost of Living Adjustments to health care services. The AARP believes only
modest changes need to made to Social Security in order to keep it going into
the 21st century. The rising cost of health services is a threat to Medicare
and the AARP feels the solution is to get the nation\'s