After pressure from activists from Firedoglake, the National Organization for Women, CREDO Action and Social Security Works, the AARP has listened to its membership and dropped its narrow survey on the future of Social Security and Medicare.

In April, I wrote about how AARP’s “You’ve Earned a Say” survey seemed like nothing more than a renewed attempt to push its membership behind supporting Social Security and Medicare benefit cuts. WIth limited response options, anyone taking AARP’s survey had little opportunity to express their desire for AARP to advocate on behalf of protecting and expanding benefits – something a clear majority of Americans support.

AARP’s advocacy on this matters, and at a time when our political classes are desperately trying to resurrect the Catfood Commission recommendations, we knew we couldn’t let them so-easily throw their members behind an agenda to cut benefits.

In response, our coalition came together to put out a revised survey with truly inclusive questions and responses. Over 20,000 people took that survey – including over 9,000 self-identified AARP members – and overwhelmingly voted in favor of AARP advocating against benefit cuts.

Two months later, AARP has released a decidedly more-open survey.

Midway through a press release issued Wednesday, June 6, AARP writes:

“Americans have paid into Social Security and Medicare, and they deserve to know what changes politicians are talking about,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy A. LeaMond. “They want straight talk about these programs and the new You’ve Earned a Say materials will help them cut through the political clutter and make their voices heard.”

Two new opinion questionnaires – one on Medicare and one on Social Security – ask how best to strengthen the programs. The questionnaires are available in the June issue of the AARP Bulletin and at www.earnedasay.org, and will also be distributed at community conversations and town halls nationwide in the coming months.

And if you take a look at the questions, there’s a noticeable improvement. Here’s an example:

#3. Which of the following do you think is the biggest challenge facing Social Security?

A. Benefits are too generous.
B. Benefits are not adequate.
C. Fewer workers are paying into the program.
D. Higher paid workers aren’t paying enough into the program.
E. Growing senior population and longer retirements.
F. Other: {Write-in box}

In fact, some of these questions seem to be closely modeled after those in our version of the survey.

I’m sure many of you are saying “big deal, they revised some crappy online survey.” But the point here is that we made the AARP listen, and they dropped their falsely-limited survey as a result.

AARP has billions of dollars and a lot of influence in discussions over the future of Social Security and Medicare benefits, which is why this change of course on their outreach to their membership could potentially have a big impact.

But this is just the first step, and it does not represent a change in AARP’s advocacy. We need to keep pushing them to listen to their members and the majority of Americans, and make it difficult for them to add legitimacy to the destructive ideas being spouted by Alan Simpson and the Pete Peterson cabal.

Big thanks to everyone who helped out with this campaign.

Please chip in $5 to our victory fund and help us continue this important campaign against cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Here is AARP’s full press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 6, 2012

CONTACT:
AARP Media Relations
202-434-2560
[email protected]

New You’ve Earned a Say Ad: Americans Have Earned the Facts about the Future of Medicare and Social Security
National conversation continues with balanced information about options on the table in Washington

WASHINGTON, DC – A new national television ad for You’ve Earned a Say encourages viewers to visit www.earnedasay.org for balanced information about the Medicare and Social Security options being debated in Washington. Beginning today on network, cable news and lifestyle channels, the ad points Americans towards resources to get the facts and make their voices heard about how different proposals would affect them and their families.

In response to its members’ and many Americans’ frustration with political rhetoric and spin, AARP commissioned experts from the Brookings Institution, Heritage Foundation, National Academy of Social Insurance and Avalere Health to provide analyses of the pros and cons of the major Medicare and Social Security options on the table. Those analyses, along with fact sheets, infographics, questionnaires and events across the country, are designed to help Americans have their say about the future of the programs.

“Americans have paid into Social Security and Medicare, and they deserve to know what changes politicians are talking about,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy A. LeaMond. “They want straight talk about these programs and the new You’ve Earned a Say materials will help them cut through the political clutter and make their voices heard.”

Two new opinion questionnaires – one on Medicare and one on Social Security – ask how best to strengthen the programs. The questionnaires are available in the June issue of the AARP Bulletin and at www.earnedasay.org, and will also be distributed at community conversations and town halls nationwide in the coming months.

You’ve Earned a Say – a national conversation about the future of Social Security and Medicare – has already engaged more than a million people online and in more than a thousand events since it launched in mid-March. An article in the June AARP Bulletin highlights the results of the first You’ve Earned a Say questionnaire which, while not scientific, reflect the opinions of many Americans.

“What we’re hearing is that people feel Washington isn’t listening when it comes to Medicare and Social Security,” LeaMond concluded. “They believe they’ve earned the facts and the right to be heard. That’s what You’ve Earned a Say is all about.”