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Political Viewpoints of AARP and the Cato Institute

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Political Viewpoints of AARP and the Cato Institute


The Social Security Debate on the Web: Using Domhoff`s Book to Analyze It

Introduction: G. William Domhoff`s Who Rules America: The Triumph of the Corporate Rich is not only an excellent piece of sociological analysis but also a useful primer for being a good citizen. In about 200 pages it provides a basic understanding of how class and power work in the United States that is critical for exercising key skills of competent citizenship. Read it all and learn from it. Demonstrate your mastery of this material in this exercise.

Focus: Domhoff`s book draws our attention to four major processes through which power is exercised in U.S. society:

  1. The special-interest process.
  2. The policy-planning process.
  3. The opinion-shaping process.
  4. The candidate selection process.

While all four of these are relevant to the current social security debate, we will focus primarily on the first three. How are these three processes playing themselves out in the battle over the future of social security? In this exercise, we will both use the web as a resource to analyze these processes and also explore how the web is being actively used to affect political outcomes with regard to social security.

Reading: It is essential that you read the entire Domhoff website, for there is relevant material throughout it:

Who Rules America Web Site (including a link to "How Corporate Moderates Created Social Security").

You will be expected to demonstrate your basic mastery of the book in responding to the questions listed below. In addition, you should familiarize yourself with the social security debate by following the news and exploring the articles and web sites noted below. In all your reading about social security, it is essential to maintain a critical stance, with an eye to the ideological orientation that lies behind any given analysis. Keep in mind Daniel Patrick Moynihan`s dictum: "Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts."

Procedure: Choose two organizations whose general political viewpoints occupy different points along the political spectrum of ultra-conservative, corporate-conservative, and liberal-labor, as discussed by Domhoff. These should generally be selected from my list of organizations listed below.

The Social Security Debate on the Web: Using Domhoff`s Book to Analyze It

List of Recommended Organizational Websites to Study

  • American Enterprise Institute
  • Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
  • Brookings Institution
  • Campaign for America`s Future
  • Cato Institute
  • Center for Economic and Policy Research
  • Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  • The Century Fund
  • Citizens for a Sound Economy
  • Club for Growth
  • Committee for Economic Development
  • Economic Policy Institute
  • Heritage Foundation
  • 60 Plus
  • Urban Institute
  • USA Next

Other organizations dealing with social security may be included with instructor`s permission

On the basis of the Domhoff book, relevant articles you find in your bibliographic searching, and your analysis of the respective organizational websites, write an essay comparing and contrasting the organizations which responds to the following:

  1. Explain which organizations you have chosen and identify their homepage URLs.
  2. Using Domhoff`s terminology noted above, explain how you would characterize the political viewpoint of each of these organizations and why, including an analysis of the vocabulary and ideas at their websites. Be on the lookout for code words that provide hints of their ideological assumptions and agenda. Provide support for your assertions by citing Domhoff.
  3. Likewise using Domhoff`s terminology, explain what type of organization each is, and what process or processes it is mainly involved in. Explain how each relates to the model of class, power, and politics that Domhoff lays out in his book.
  4. Contrast the different views about social security expressed at the two organizations` websites. How do they agree or differ on whether social security faces a crisis, whether social security is the best way to provide for retirement security, and what needs to be done?
  5. Provide your own critical evaluation of these sites. Are the facts properly stated and documented? Are the interpretations convincingly supported by facts and other evidence? Are the policy proposals convincing to you? Bring in material from Domhoff`s book where relevant, and cut and paste passages from the websites where relevant, remembering to properly cite the relevant URLs.
  6. A reference list at the end of websites and resources used, in APA format.




Format and Submission:

  • Please submit your paper in a Word (doc) format.
  • Be sure you respond in essay format to each of the questions above (you may either do this separately for each organization or else question by question comparisons).
  • 5 double-spaced pages.
  • APA style
  • Further Resources for Finding and Analyzing Your Organizations: While not limited to them, the following websites should be good starting points:
  • Google by far the best search engine on the web. There is a wealth of resources about this debate on the web and it seems everyone has an opinion. You may want to put quotation marks around your organizations` names.


Keep in mind that most websites have not been vetted by anyone and may contain misleading or incorrect information. It is therefore generally a good idea to rely on sources such as the following:

Further Resources for Understanding Social Security.

  • Social Security: Facts, Perspectives and Opinions A an annotated selection of just a few highly-recommended links for learning about social security and the debate about it.
  • How Corporate Moderates Created the Social Security Act by G. William Domhoff
  • Riding into the Sunset by William Greider This article is a little long, but Greider lays out both sides of the debate and what is wrong with doing way with social secruity.
  • Misquoted social security "facts"
  • Social Security Administration website

Web Assignment Name Institution Web Assignment Introduction The subject of power and class in the United States of America could be understood after reading a book published by Domhoff (2013). This owes to the reality that the author published a book that discusses how the rich use resources to influence political decisions. Critical to the discussion is the truth that the book under discussion reveals how power elites use processes such as the special-interest process, the opinion-sharing process, the policy-planning process, and the candidate selection process to exercise power. However, the upcoming discussion will focus on the former three process of exercising power. After reading the contents of the book, it becomes clear that the author’s arguments are practical. It is because organizations such as the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the Cato Institute demonstrate how power is exercised in America. This paper supports Domhoff (2013) argument using the Cato Institute and the association of retired persons to illustrate how power is exercised in America by focusing on social security. The Chosen Organizations The Cato Institute is a public policy research organization that was founded in 1977. The organization advises the country on matters regarding to free markets, individual liberty, limited government, and peace. It is why the organization works with independent and non-partisan researchers on an array of policy issues. Criti...

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