Monday, February 24, 2014

Are You Aware of the Corporate Bait-and-Switch of Public Pensions in Illinois and Elsewhere?

“…The goals of the plot against pensions are both straightforward and deceptive. On the surface, the primary objective is to convert traditional defined-benefit pension funds that guarantee retirement income into riskier, costlier schemes that reduce benefits and income guarantees, and subject taxpayers and millions of workers’ retirement funds to Enron’s casino-style economics. At the same time, waging a high-profile fight for such an objective also simultaneously helps achieve the conservative movement’s larger goal of protecting profligate corporate subsidies.

“The bait-and-switch at work is simple: The plot forwards the illusion that state budget problems are driven by pension benefits rather than by the far more expensive and wasteful corporate subsidies that states have been doling out for years. That ends up 1) focusing state budget debates on benefit-slashing proposals and therefore 2) downplaying proposals that would raise revenue to shore up existing retirement systems. The result is that the Pew-Arnold initiative at once helps the right’s ideological crusade against traditional pensions and helps billionaires and the business lobby preserve corporations’ huge state tax subsidies…

“In bequeathing its brand to an Enron billionaire and embracing this campaign, Pew is being steered back toward its ultraconservative roots. In the process, the retirement security of millions of Americans is being jeopardized…

“The National Association of State Retirement Administrators says, ‘The idea of imminent (public pension) insolvency is a gross distortion.’ It is also why the head of the Milken Institute’s Center for Emerging Domestic Markets concludes that the manageable pension problem ‘in this moment is revenue’ – not allegedly unaffordable retirement benefits. And it is why the attempt to create the perception of a ‘crisis’ as a means to slash guaranteed retirement income rather than raise public revenue – is so deceptive.

“In repeatedly refusing to devote the money needed to fulfill states’ negotiated obligations to public pension funds, lawmakers for years have effectively raided their workers’ retirement benefits to finance subsidies to already wealthy corporations – many of which are undoubtedly those lawmakers’ major campaign donors.

“When the housing crisis hit, the stock market’s subsequent crash should have prompted legislators to slash corporate subsidies, close tax loopholes and return more of the raided money to pensioners.  After all, as The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein points out, ‘Republicans and some Democrats and business interests passed (the) massive unfunded tax cuts that turned pension programs into ticking time bombs.’ Those tax cuts could have just as easily been repealed when the stock market dropped…

“Instead, though, those business interests that want their subsidies and tax breaks preserved have convinced politicians to blame public workers’ alleged greed and cite the pension shortfalls as reason to radically change the pension system for the long haul…” 

For this Complete 32-page Report (with footnotes), Click Here.
I have read it. Please READ IT too.

1 comment:

  1. This is a partisan issue with both sides having money at risk. IMHO it would be best to take from both parties.