It appears that – contrary to popular belief – Dave Reichert does things in Washington:
AARP lobbied for the new health care law and now it stands to profit, Republican lawmakers charged Wednesday as they called for the IRS to investigate whether the powerful interest group representing older Americans should be stripped of its federal tax exemption.
Three veteran GOP representatives released a report that estimates the seniors lobby could make an additional $1 billion over 10 years on health insurance plans whose sales are expected to pick up under the new law. They also questioned seven-figure compensation for some AARP executives.
“Based on the available evidence, substantial questions remain about whether AARP should maintain its tax-exempt status,” said the report, released by Reps. Wally Herger of California, Charles Boustany of Louisiana and Dave Reichert of Washington.
By definition, AARP makes no profit, and has no shareholders to distribute profits to. What it does have is a lot of money to promote the interests of its members, lobby Congress, and fund various charitable organizations.
AARP is big, and the CEO makes a lot of money. But it is neither an insurance company nor a for profit organization. Congressman Sander Levin of Michigan called this for what it is; a “witch hunt”.
That’s all true, but it avoids the most unseemly thing about Reichert’s attempt to “go Full ACORN” on the AARP. Insurance companies – whose practices should be far more of a concern to the American public – make profits and pay out salaries that completely dwarf what anyone at the AARP makes, yet are ignored by Reichert and his cronies. These companies also got what they wanted with the Affordable Care Act.
If Dave Reichert actually cared about how much money non-profits like the AARP are able to finagle for themselves in a system where the government will soon force citizens to buy private coverage without a public alternative, he’d be advocating for the one big structural change that could undercut all the profiteering – a public option. But he’s not concerned about those structural issues, only the non-profits who gain from them. His constituency isn’t the middle class family in Auburn who struggles to find adequate health care coverage – he could give a fuck about them. His constituency is the insurance company who doesn’t like the fact that the AARP has been able to use their trusted name to rake in lots of money in the health care market.
It’s entirely possible that the AARP will get roasted for their actions here, but with Dave Reichert and the House Republicans driving the bus until 2013, the situation for America’s families is only going to get worse.
UPDATE: Curtis Cartier at the Weekly writes:
AARP functions in two distinct ways–one, as a lobbying group, dedicated to advancing causes for seniors; two, as a kind of “branding organization” that offers to lend its name to certain products (namely insurance plans) for a cost.
It’s these dual roles that Republicans believe should disqualify the group from tax exemptions.
Sort of like how they are also calling for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to lose its tax-exempt status for supporting the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case, which stands to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to its corporations through their ability to anonymously contribute to political campaigns, right?
Wait, I’m being told that Republicans have made no such demands.