Selective Enforcement from the Sheriff

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.

As Sarge in Seattle points out:

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.


  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Looks like the pubbies don’t intend to stop with stripping public workers of their unions; now they want to strip senior citizens of their union, too. Next thing you know 80-year-olds will be working 14-hour days in sweatshops for 50 cents an hour.

  2. 2

    BigSid spews:

    Hasn’t Reichert been trying to keep anyone from mentioning anything about him in any context? The guy’s been practically a ghost, this is how he tries to put himself out there? Are there not old people in Bellevue?

  3. 4

    LD spews:

    You idiots are so clueless about what Obama’s debt is doing to this country, it almost makes me laugh.

    Inflation (Gas has doubled, food, etc) while you all say you made money in the stock market.

    Well good, you can put it in the gas tank.

    You’re even!

    and a 1.7 trillion dollar deficit is NOT going to get cut with 20 billion less spending. It’s like skipping your morning bagel.

    This IDIOT and his massive spending and inflation have got to go!

  4. 5

    Proud to be an Ass spews:

    @4. Your ignorance of economics is astounding. You might try reading up on what inflation actually is. Right now, it’s apparent you don’t have a clue.

    And if cutting a few tens of billions from the budget is not going to put a dent in the deficit, why does the GOP demand that we do so?

  5. 6

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @4 Correction, you mean Reagan’s and the two Bushes’ debts; and as for what their borrow-and-spend policy is going to do to this country, it already has.

  6. 7

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Friday Morning News Wrapup

    Wisconsin Judge Maryann Sumi signaled that she will rule, possibly as early today, on whether Republican legislators violated the state open meetings law when they passed Gov. Walker’s union-stripping bill without a Senate quorum after abruptly separating it from the state budget bill.

    Republicans’ legal arguments in defense of the union-stripping bill center around their claims that courts don’t have authority to decide on the validity of legislation because legislators are immune from civil suit, and that Senate rules supersede the state open meetings law. Legal experts, including a University of Wisconsin law professor, have told the media these arguments aren’t viable.

    In other Wisconsin news, Democrats say they have enough signatures to file the first recall petition against a GOP state senator on Monday; and ex-Alaska mayor and governor and rumored GOP presidential nomination-seeker Sarah Palin has endorsed the Republican candidate in Wisconsin’s state supreme court election on Tuesday, in which a GOP loss would flip control of the court to Democrats.

  7. 8

    Xar spews:

    @4: Gas was slightly over a dollar/gallon in 2000. By 2008, it was over three. So Bush had an even larger growth in gas prices (a tripling). Did you whine about that being inflation then?

  8. 9

    Gen spews:

    Once again the Republican machine is working hard to make absolutely sure they are the only voice heard. Never mind free speech or anything as trivial as that.

    Reichert has had the best taxpayer paid healthcare (our) money can buy ALL of his adult life. How much did we pay for his head injury, that, by the way was not an on-the-job injury? (!) Of all the important issues affecting our country, the AARP is what he chooses to go after? No wonder he hid from the media in the last election. What a joke.

  9. 10

    zzippy spews:

    @4: Until this comment, I halfway respected your comments and, unlike the posts of other trolls here, I read them. However, the sheer… well… um… idiocy of your post means that I’ll start ignoring your too. Sigh.

    P.S. Lee, good catch in the update about the very apt analogy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its tax-exempt status. Sigh again.

  10. 11

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @4 You’re right, 20 billion isn’t enough to tame the deficit, which is why we need to eliminate tax credits to the oil and gas industry, eliminate ethanol subsidies and tax credits for Republican farmers in Iowa, and stop spending so damn much money on weaponry and the military.

    Of course, the latter won’t happen, which is why I continue to own stocks in defense companies. I made over $900 in the stock market today by sitting on my fat rabbit ass watching my oil and defense stocks go up. I don’t put any of it in a gas tank because I get around on my rabbit feet.

    Hey all you wingers with gas-guzzling SUVs and pickups, I just wanna let you know I appreciate your business! Keep burning gas like it’s going out of style to keep my dividends rolling in! I made over 900 bucks in the stock market yesterday, too — free money, yum yum! The next best thing to carrots!