Jonathan Chait

The Next Republican Target

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[Guest post by James Downie]

Before the war on unions has even finished, Republicans in Washington have already picked a new target: the AARP.

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. [...]

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.

“There is certainly a sense of getting back at some of those groups that supported” health care reform, said Chris Lamond, a Republican lobbyist with Thorn Run Partners. “It is a little bit like, ‘We are in charge of the House side, we are going to hold their feet to the fire.'"

Remember, unions (and especially public employee unions) had declining poll numbers when Republicans started targeting them at the state level, yet politically the anti-union effort has been disastrous for the GOP, while boosting union approval ratings. On the other hand, the AARP is already popular, even among "get your government out of my Social Security" types. That at least some Republicans think the AARP would be a good target is just bizarre.

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