cover image The AARP:: America's Most Powerful Lobby and the Clash of Generations

The AARP:: America's Most Powerful Lobby and the Clash of Generations

Charles R. Morris. Crown Publishing Group (NY), $23 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8129-2753-5

This book might more accurately have been titled Old Age Entitlements and You, for vast, important segments deal with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid without reference to the American Association of Retired Persons as an organization. The AARP information is not uninteresting, but neither is it especially revelatory; Morris (Computer Wars) reviews its early history as an agency that primarily marketed insurance and other products to the aging via direct mail. Today's reformed AARP, which opened its files to the author, gets high marks from him as ""an invaluable policy resource on senior issues'' and as ""one of the most responsible of all Washington lobbying organizations.'' On the fiscal soundness of old-age entitlement programs, Morris, like others in and out of Congress, warns us of the danger to Medicare and Medicaid, and stresses that although Social Security is not now in crisis, the program will become insolvent within 35 years, when some 70 million baby boomers begin to retire. In clear language, Morris interprets statistics and offers suggestions on medical reform and on how to avoid bankruptcy of senior entitlement programs, proposing what he describes as ""muddling-through reforms."" If his proposals are not original-means tests, increasing the age of eligibility to 70, improving self-regulation of excessive treatment in terminal illness, etc.-they reiterate the urgency of the problem. (July)