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The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has announced it is open to cutting Social Security benefits, a change of course for the politically influential organization that could bolster efforts for entitlement reform.

Social Security is notorious for being difficult to reform, in no small part because of the backlash from elderly citizens who rely on Social Security benefits, vote in large numbers and have their interests represented by the powerful AARP. But in the midst of Congressional clamoring to rein in entitlement spending, AARP has announced that it will not oppose cuts to Social Security.

The ship was sailing. I wanted to be at the wheel when that happens, John Rother, AARP's long-time policy chief told the Wall Street Journal.

AARP has some 37-million members and last year reaped $1.4-billion in revenue, according to the Journal, making it a formidable force in Washington. It was instrumental in helping to defeat President George W. Bush's proposal for Social Security reform, which would have partially privatized the program.

Programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security account for a large and increasing share of the United States budget, and have become a prime target for the cost-cutting fervor that has ignited the GOP.