“Senate Bill 1 was a double-cross by the Democrats in charge of both legislative houses, a giant middle finger to hundreds of thousands of firefighters, teachers, garbage collectors and other public employees who worked decades with the understanding that they would have a secure retirement at the end.
“This is particularly telling, in that states would never dream of defaulting on debts incurred through bond issues brokered by big Wall Street banks but don't seem to give a second's thought to breaking their promise to pay the state's public workforce money they've earned and been promised in the state's own constitution.
“Documents recently leaked to The Guardian show that the SPN and the more notorious American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), both of which are corporate-funded institutions that exist to buy influence in state legislatures nationwide, aim to gradually change state pension plans into 401(k) plans that siphon workers' earned income into large revenue streams for Wall Street.
“The New York Times explained how 401(k) plans make retirees pay tens of thousands of dollars in superfluous fees over a long period of time, which go directly into the banks' balance sheets rather than the retirees' future.
“The Guardian reported on leaked documents showing Mayor Emanuel being positioned to lobby for the conversion of pensions into 401(k) plans at the Illinois statehouse in a scaremongering campaign to give justification for pension "reform," sung to the narrative of "out of control" deficits. This is particularly ironic and insulting, considering Rahm Emanuel's history of looting public assets to reward his rich friends as mayor of Chicago.
“Emanuel used the deficit as an excuse to close 50 public schools in Chicago, while making taxpayers fork over $55 million in tax-incremented financing (TIF) to DePaul University for a new sports stadium and $50 million in tax breaks to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which was also his top campaign contributor in the last election with a hefty $200,000 donation.
“The Illinois legislature's hypocrisy is also astounding. They cite their fear over ballooning deficits as justification for taking away public employees' sole retirement income, yet they're simultaneously contemplating an $88 million tax break package for Archer Daniels Midland, Office Depot and Univar.
“Coincidentally, Archer Daniels Midland just gave House Speaker Madigan, who forced Senate Bill 1 through the House, $10,000 in campaign contributions in the 2012 election cycle. Calls to Speaker Madigan's office for this story were not returned.
Time for a New Party:
All of us who have been continuously coerced into voting for one party that continuously lets us down so the other party that would continuously let us down won't win have had enough. The dichotomy of Wisconsin Republicans and Illinois Democrats is just one example of how two supposedly opposing parties can do almost the exact same thing just one state line apart from the other.
“It's time for the creation of a new political force that organizes from a purely populist standpoint. We need a new party, with fresh faces that run on a desire to make change, rather than a career from within the system. This party needs a new brand not associated with existing third parties that expend millions of dollars on losing presidential campaigns, but one that organizes for ballot access and wins at the local level.
“This party needs to separate itself from the Republican and Democratic parties by refusing to accept any donations from corporations, banks and developers, and has an unapologetically populist platform.
“We need a party that doesn't rely on flooding TV markets with advertising to get its message out, but one that relies on bettering the lives of ordinary people in their own communities to recruit a mass base of supporters. And only through the support of this mass base of volunteers can this new party win elections and give regular people real decision-making power.
“It's time to take this populist movement we've built in the streets over the past few years from not only protesting those in power, but also directly taking power away from the corrupt officials who have had it for too long.”