Monday, June 3, 2013

We are tired of injustice, but we will be resolute when voting these Illinois politicians out of office

What do Pamela Althoff, Dan Biss, William Brady, Michael Connelly, John Cullerton, Kirk Dillard, Don Harmon, Darin LaHood, Steven Landek, Matt Murphy, Jim Oberweis, Christine Radogno, Sue Rezin, Steve Stadelman, Heather Steans, Dave Syverson have in common? They voted “Yes” for the recent Senate Bill 1. What do these 16 politicians have in common with the likes of Joseph Weil, P.T. Barnum, Victor Lustig, Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Joseph Fouché, Marie-Antoinette and Louis XIV? They are opportunists without concern for any ethical fairness.

And what do Edward Acevedo, Luis Arroyo, Patricia Bellock, Maria Antonia Berrios, John Bradley, Daniel Burke, Kelly Burke, Katherine Cloonen, Deborah Conroy, Fred Crespo, Tom Cross, Barbara Flynn Currie, John D’Amico, Monique Davis, William Davis, Tom Demmer, Jim Durkin, Keith Farnham, Sara Feigenholtz, Jack Franks, Robyn Gabel, Jehan Gordon-Booth, Brad Halbrook, David Harris, Greg Harris, Kay Hatcher, Elizabeth Hernandez, Frances Hurley,  Jeanne Ives, Charles Jefferson, Thaddeus Jones, Dwight Kay, Stephanie Kifowit, Renee Kosel, David Leitch, Michael Madigan, Natalie Manley, Robert Martwick, Emily McAsey, David McSweeney, Deborah Mell, Christian Mitchell, Thomas Morrison, Martin Moylan, Michelle Mussman, Elaine Nekritz, JoAnn Osmond, Pam Roth, Jim Sacia, Ron Sandack, Timothy Schmitz, Darlene Senger, Carol Sente, Joe Sosnowski (but had two excused absences), Cynthia Soto, Ed Sullivan, Silvana Tabares, Jil Tracy, Barbara Wheeler, Kathleen Willis, Sam Yingling, and Michael Zalewski have in common?  They voted “Yes” for House Bills 1154 (a pensionable salary cap, March 14), 1165 (a delay and diminishment of COLAs, March 21) and 1166 (an incremental increase in retirement age, March 14). What do these 62 politicians have in common with the likes of Joseph Weil, P.T. Barnum, Victor Lustig, Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Joseph Fouché, Marie-Antoinette and Louis XIV? They are opportunists without concern for any ethical fairness.

Commentary

We are tired of members of the Illinois General Assembly who lack ethical responsibility and moral courage and are willing to challenge the State and U.S. Constitutions. These so-called aforementioned senators and representatives are ordinary liars and thieves!

We are also tired of incompetent, skewed coverage regarding the Illinois public pensions’ unfunded liability. We are tired of hearing about downgrades from bond agencies that ironically led us into the previous Great Recession and from liars and thieves who blame the public pensions for the state’s self-imposed and corrupt fiscal morass.

And we are tired of the media’s omission of the most significant facts about public pension debt and anyone who talks or writes about cuts to services and the siphoning of the state’s money from education, public safety and human services because of “failed pension reform.” These so-called pundits are deviants!

Every article, every interview, and every legislative session about Illinois public pension reform should begin with the following statements: The public pension systems were not and are still not the causes of the state’s budget deficits. The state’s budget deficits were triggered by past policymakers’ corruption, arrogance and irresponsibility and are perpetuated by some members of the current 98th General Assembly. The state's pension debt and revenue problems need to be resolved! Breaking a constitutionally-guaranteed contract (pension reform) is the wrong solution. It is also morally and legally unwarranted. 

Who is consistently and unequivocally reporting and discussing (besides a few bloggers) that the state’s public services have been paid primarily by money stolen from the state’s public pension funds for decades; that payments, meant for the public pension systems, were stolen from the public employees’ pension plans and that public employees have financed health care programs, education, public safety, park districts, and street repairs… for 60 years? 

Who is correctly reporting and discussing (besides a few bloggers and one Illinois TRS trustee) that past Illinois legislators had stolen approximately $30 billion intended for the five public pension systems?

Who is justly reporting and discussing (besides a few bloggers and legislators and one prominent lawyer) that it was past Illinois policymakers who were responsible for nearly one-half of the public pension systems' unfunded liabilities?

Who is exactly reporting and discussing (besides the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability and a few bloggers) that the service or pension debt needs to be re-amortized with a level payment just like a home mortgage?

Who is undeniably reporting and discussing (besides a few bloggers and online newspapers) that current policymakers have provided extortive tax breaks for the wealthiest corporations in Illinois, such as Boeing; Caterpillar; Sears Holdings Corporation; and CME Group Inc., parent company of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Chicago Board of Trade… and they will do it again?

And who is accurately reporting (besides the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and a few bloggers) that “Illinois is an extreme example of the implications of a failure to fix [its revenue] problems; [that] it has a flat, low-rate income tax that does not adequately capture income growth; [that its] income-tax revenues routinely lag behind economic growth, [and it] relies heavily on a state and local sales tax that is almost exclusively applied to goods and excludes almost all other services? [...]

“[Furthermore,] because Illinois is chronically short of the revenues it needs to cover its expenses, it has engaged in a number of poor fiscal practices over the years. [Illinois General Assemblies] have postponed payments to vendors, failed to make adequate pension contributions or borrowed money to make [partial] contributions, securitized or sold assets, and taken other dubious actions [most recently with pension reform for 'opportunistic and political' purposes]. As a result, [Illinois policymakers] have had a particularly difficult time coping with revenue declines... and [they] have developed a large overhang of longer-term debt and unfunded liabilities…

“The root cause of Illinois’ problem is a revenue system in urgent need of modernization, one that cannot support the level of expenditures [and debt] that state [legislators must confront]...  If [these legislators] fail to reduce [the state’s] structural deficits and improve budget processes, it will be more difficult for [the state] to maintain needed services and to prepare for the next cyclical downturn by accumulating adequate reserves. Nor will [the State of Illinois] have the funds to fix the problems that have been identified in the funding of public pensions and other essential areas [despite some political opportunists' claims that ‘pension reform’, or breaking a constitutionally-guaranteed contract with public employees, is the resolution for the state's self-imposed fiscal mess].”

Besides the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Illinois revenue restructuring is also recommended by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the National Council of State Legislatures, the Economic Policy Institute, the Center for Policy and Economic Research, the National Association of State Retirement Administrators, the National Institute on Retirement, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, United for a Fair Economy, and the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.  

None of these institutes and groups advocates breaking a constitutionally-guaranteed contract with public employees as a solution for the state’s pension debt and revenue problems, only self-interested politicians among the Illinois General Assembly and the ravenous corporatists among the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, the Civic Federation, the Illinois Policy Institute, the Chicago Tribune, and a few other avaricious and unethical organizations do.

Finally, take note of these 19 representatives who voted “Yes” on two of the three abovementioned House Bills: Scott Drury, Jim Dunkin, Marcus Evans, Laura Fine, Mary Flowers, La Shawn Ford, Jay Hoffman, Eddie Lee Jackson, Camille Lilly, Sandra Pihos, Robert Pritchard, Al Riley, Robert Rita, Elgie Sims, Keith Sommer, Arthur Turner, Michael Unes, Lawrence Walsh and Ann Williams; these 22 representatives voted “Yes” on one of the three abovementioned House Bills: Daniel Beiser, John Cabello, Kelly Cassidy, John Cavaletto, Linda Chapa LaVia, C. D. Davidsmeyer, Anthony DeLuca, Mike Fortner, Esther Golar, Josh Harms, Lou Lang, Frank Mautino, Rita Mayfield, Michael McAuliffe, Charles Meier, Dennis Reboletti, David Reis, Derrick Smith, Andre Thapedi, Michael Tryon, Patrick Verschoore and Emanuel Welch.

Of Liars and Thieves:


There is no other way to define or call what some of these politicians are doing to public employees. The facts are clear and available. Many of them have chosen to ignore the legal and moral solutions for the state's budget problems. Billions of dollars were stolen from the public pension systems. Many of them are defying their oath of office; many of them are acting unethically and illegally.

-Glen Brown


1 comment:

  1. Powerfully states, as always, Glen. Many thanks.

    ReplyDelete