AARP, the giant seniors lobby, plans to send dozens of staff and volunteers to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to lobby lawmakers on issues related to the fiscal cliff, the $500 billion combination of tax hikes and spending cuts set to go into effect at the beginning of next year.
The organization plans to urge lawmakers to reject any changes to Social Security or Medicare during it's end-of-year, lame-duck session. Specifically, AARP wants lawmakers to resist extending the two-year-old payroll-tax cut, which expires at the end of the year. The administration pushed for an extension of the 2-percentage-point cut in its opening offer to House Republicans on Thursday. The payroll tax funds Social Security.
AARP also plans to urge lawmakers to oppose changing the inflation measure used to adjust Social Security payments to a modified version known as the Chained Consumer Price Index.
The payroll-tax cut had seemed destined to expire at the end of the year, but comments from prominent Democrats over the past two months suggested it could see renewed support.
Former top White House economic adviser Larry Summers broached the subject in a Center for American Progress speech in October, saying that "this is not the right moment to repeal the payroll-tax cut." Ten days later, House Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said that “given the situation we're in, I don't think that should be taken off the table.” Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., told Reuters recently that he backed extending it, as it would have "the biggest bang for the buck on economic growth." And Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said it should be "on the table," Reuters reports. An extension of the cut was included in a proposal offered by the White House to House Republicans on Thursday.
The cut affects roughly 160 million Americans.