Acronym Acrimony Erupts Over ARP/AARP

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:30 PM EDT

( - The brand-new Alliance for Retirement Prosperity goes by the acronym ARP, and that angers the AARP -- the American Association of Retired Persons -- which reportedly has threatened to sue ARP for trademark infringement.

Former U.S. Rep. Jack Kemp, who co-chairs the Alliance for Retirement Prosperity (ARP), rejected suggestions that his group is trying to mislead the public by choosing that particular name. It's just a coincidence, Kemp said, that ARP is one 'A' short of AARP:

"For AARP to sue the Alliance for Retirement Prosperity over its name would be like Ohio State University (OSU) suing Oklahoma State University (OSU) over the acronym, or maybe USC suing the University of South Carolina," Kemp said in a press release.

"Our organization's aims are completely and totally different from those of the AARP," Kemp said. "We want the line between the two organizations to be drawn as definitively as possible."

To dispel any confusion over the two organizations and where they stand on the issues -- especially Social Security -- Kemp challenged AARP to choose a hand-picked team to debate ARP members on the topic of personal retirement accounts.

The Alliance for Retirement Prosperity advocates reforming Social Security by allowing (younger) workers to redirect at least half of their payroll taxes into personal retirement accounts.

The AARP opposes the idea. "Diverting Social Security revenues into individual accounts shifts risk to the individual and hurts the financial status of Social Security itself," the AARP says on its website.

But the Alliance for Retirement Prosperity says the only way to save Social Security is to fix it. The Alliance says it opposes all payroll tax increases and benefit reductions. It says "prudent federal borrowing" can finance the transition costs involved in shifting part of the payroll taxes into personal accounts.

Various analyses say the current Social Security system will go broke in a matter of years unless something is done to fix it. But -- as the oft-described "third rail of politics" -- Social Security is not something politicians want to tackle, especially in an election year.

On Tuesday, March 16th, the Alliance for Retirement Prosperity was holding a press conference to introduce its "reform Social Security" mission.

The Alliance for Retirement Prosperity is co-chaired by Empower America co-director Jack Kemp, Citizens for a Sound Economy Chairman Dick Armey, and former Social Security Commissioner Dorcas R. Hardy.

Steve Moore, president of the Club for Growth will serve as the National Policy Chairman. Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and Charlie Jarvis, president of United Seniors Association, both members of the founders committee, also will play active roles in the coalition, ARP said.

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