O'Reilly guest contradicted himself and wrongly characterized AARP job-training program for seniors

››› ››› EVA HOWE

John Carlisle, policy director of the National Legal and Policy Center, described the AARP's Senior Community Service Employment Program as a "welfare program masquerading as job training," falsely claiming that the AARP had reported the program's job placement rate to be only 20 percent. But he had previously noted that the AARP had stated the placement rate was higher than 50 percent.

On the January 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, John Carlisle, policy director of the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), used false figures to suggest that the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is a "welfare program masquerading as job training." The SCSEP is administered by 13 national nonprofit groups and is intended to help low-income seniors with few job prospects obtain job skills before being placed in businesses and nonprofits. Carlisle falsely stated to host Bill O'Reilly that the AARP estimates the SCSEP program to "have a 20-percent placement rate," and that even that low figure is "double what the Department of Labor [DOL] requires." In fact, while DOL actually requires a 20-percent placement rate, AARP estimates that its SCSEP program places more than 50 percent of participants in jobs -- as Carlisle himself previously noted in an NLPC "special report" on AARP.

According to the DOL's 2004 figures for participation in SCSEP among all 13 nonprofit groups that administer it, 36 percent of its 93,000 participants transitioned from the program into permanent jobs.

The NLPC is a nonprofit group whose website says it "promotes a single standard of ethics in public life" and that "the best way to promote ethics is to reduce the size of government."

From the January 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Why -- why is the government giving the AARP money?

CARLISLE: Well, it's coming from five different federal agencies, but the biggest one is a $75 million grant from the Department of Labor to fund a program that's supposed to train low-income senior citizens for gainful employment. In reality, it is not a job-training program. It is a welfare program masquerading as job training.

O'REILLY: So you're accusing the AARP of not training senior citizens, low-income senior citizens? Is that what you're doing?

CARLISLE: Yes, the program has been around -- it's called the Senior Community Service Employment Program. It's been around since the 1960s. It spends over $440 million a year. And the way it works is that the Department of Labor will give most of the money to groups like the AARP and other nonprofits to supervise, to manage the program. The problem is that it has a very poor track record in actually placing seniors in meaningful jobs.

O'REILLY: Can you give me a stat on it? I mean, all right, we're getting $75 million from the federal government. How many senior citizens are they putting in jobs?

CARLISLE: They claim they have a 20-percent placement rate, but based upon what we're finding out is that in many cases, this placement rate is very low. For instance, the state of Minnesota --

O'REILLY: Twenty percent is low. If you're only placing one out of five people you're training for $75 million, that's low.

CARLISLE: Yes, and that's actually double what the Department of Labor requires. What we're finding out that when they are placed in jobs, oftentimes it's in a rather meaningless -- meaningless jobs in public agencies and so forth.

O'REILLY: So in your opinion, sir, it's a boondoggle?

CARLISLE: Yes, it's another wasteful program which should be abolished.

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Economy, Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment
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The O'Reilly Factor
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