WashPost Fact Check Raps AARP Ad on Budget

Monday, 20 Jun 2011 11:03 AM

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A new AARP ad highlighting suspect government programs as the cause of the budget deficit “perpetuates the worst stereotypes about how easy it would be to balance the budget.” The programs identified in the ad are so small that eliminating them would reduce the deficit a mere 15 one-thousandths, The Washington Post says in a fact check.

AARP, fact check,The ad highlights government spending for a handful of programs such as a cotton institute in Brazil, poetry at zoos and treadmills for shrimp and concludes, “Next month Congress could make a deal that cuts Medicare . . . even Social Security. I guess it’s easier to cut the benefits we earned, than to cut pickle technology.”

The public already is misinformed about the federal budget, with 63 percent falsely believing that the government spends more on defense and foreign aid that it does on Medicare and Social Security, the Post fact checker wrote. The shrimp on a treadmill program costs just $560,000; the poetry one comes in at under $1 million; and the pickle project, $775,000. The biggest amount, $147 million to the cotton institute, stems from a ruling the United States lost at the World Trade Organization over subsidies to U.S. farmers, the Post reported.

“At a time when the nation’s fiscal crisis—amid the looming retirement of the baby-boom generation-- demands informed and reasoned debate, the AARP misinforms its members about the choices the nation faces, according to the fact check. The choice is not between shrimp treadmills and Medicare; the question is how growth in the big entitlement programs can be restrained to accommodate the baby-boom generation without harming the elderly already receiving benefits,” the Post concluded.

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