Thursday, October 9, 2014

Guess who is in the news again seeking to cut benefits of current and retired public employees?

Civic Committee seeking discussion about pensions (Associated Press)

"The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club is launching an initiative Wednesday that aims to spark a discussion about consequences if the Illinois Supreme Court strikes down pension overhaul legislation. 

"The nonpartisan organization of executives is calling the outreach effort to lawmakers, schools and social services the ‘What If’ initiative. Committee President Ty Fahner calls it ‘imperative’ to understand what could result if pension reform is overturned..."

From Previous Posts in this Blog:

What is the Civic Committee? It is a group that attempts to maintain and improve its membership’s privileges while creating conflict in the public at large by controlling and buying media to mold public opinion. The Civic Committee’s tactics include convincing the shrinking middle class that the reason why “Illinois is broke” is the public pension systems in Illinois. 

Its tactics incorporate deflecting attention away from their avaricious profiteering and elitism; keeping public employees divided by attacking one group, such as teachers instead of firemen or policemen; diverting class conflict by turning the middle class upon itself through use of such rhetorical devices as faulty rationalizations; selected instances; slogans; causal oversimplifications; non sequitur; and appeals to fear, ignorance, and bias found on its obverse group’s website (Illinois Is Broke). Its schemes include using its own membership to compile reports and analyses disguised as impartial data (Sidley Austin LLP) and intimidating legislators in downstate meetings to make laws in the interests of the wealthy and powerful few.

Corporatists are alive and well in Illinois. The history of our State has been one of excessive greed, shameless hypocrisy, corruption and oppression, extortion and domination, exploitation and deception, selfishness and subjugation, poverty, unemployment and inequitable taxation; protection for the wealthy and their powerful interests, exorbitant wealth for the few and scarcity of wealth for the many: government of the Committee, by the Committee, and for the Committee.

Government by the rich and powerful or by a duplicitous “not-for-profit organization whose mission is to stimulate and encourage the growth of the area's economy and its ability to provide for its people” is based upon the impoverishment of others; the Civic Committee’s power is purchased. The “current mission” is the wholesale destruction of the entire middle class and the pension systems in Illinois, in particular, the Teachers’ Retirement System.

Who writes the laws by which the Illinois government operates? The Civic Committee. Who will profit from pension reform (to free up the cash flow and increase its profit margin) in Illinois? The Civic Committee. Who will eventually lose their “only” retirement pension (teachers do not pay into social security)? The teachers of Illinois. There are no equal rights when there is inequity of wealth and when promises are made to support and to preserve the fortunes of a few at the expense and victimization of the many.

What is Tyrone Fahner’s and the Civic Committee’s plan for Illinois teachers? They plan to address the state’s budget deficit in the interests of big business by destroying the teachers’ defined-benefit pension plan and maintain control of the economic and political policies of state and municipal governments; they plan to redistribute money away from the public employees’ defined-benefit pension plans and to their private interests and profits by proposing an unsecured, non-guaranteed financial option called a defined-contribution plan and rendering the present defined-benefit plan unaffordable.

Besides cleverly disguising its economic terrorism against public employees, the Civic Committee’s manipulation and exploitation of the citizens of Illinois closely rival the history and spirit of conniving, arrogant capitalism evident in this country. The Illinois Is Broke website claims that state employees are getting a “sweet deal,” one that is better than “95 percent” of workers in the private industry. Apparently, members in this powerful and wealthy club are not in that 95 percent…

The Illinois Is Broke website claims that “Illinois has 13 million residents.” The wealthy Civic Committee has a few hundred members. That means the remaining 99.999% of the state's citizens pay proportionately higher taxes because Illinois is one of the few states that uses a flat-tax rate and Illinois executives of large corporations, such as the membership of the Civic Committee, also pass on the burden of their taxes that they do not pay onto the average citizen through an exploitation of governmental policies that create a “corporate welfare.” 

The Civic Committee does not publicize the fact that its members shift the burden of this payment to the public and that some of the state’s lost revenue is based upon promises that they will create more jobs; even though, their outsourcing of American jobs is disguised as “free trade” and has eliminated hundreds of thousands of jobs and has eroded the tax base of the State of Illinois; the Civic Committee members do not publicize the fact that they have hidden vast amounts of their corporate money in offshore bank accounts to avoid taxation and, thus, to increase their excessive profiteering – paid for by the rest of us.

Fahner called Chief Legal Counsel to Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton and Parliamentarian of the Illinois Senate Eric M. Madiar’s “81-page tome… Nonsense.” For Fahner claims: “All of us is subject to… the police/fire safety… the deeds of anything, of anyone, are trumped when it comes to providing the basic needs of society: health, education, police and fire safety.” Fahner purposely forgets that Illinois politicians were able to “provide [for those] basic needs” in Illinois throughout the decades because they had stolen billions of dollars from the public employees’ pension funds to pay for them.
Let’s recall what Fahner had said about reneging on contracts in his interview with Phil Ponce on WTTW on April 25, 2012: “This [public pension financial mess] was not created by the people entitled to the benefits... Well, if this happened in the private sector… if someone didn't pay in the money… there would be prosecutions going.”

Do you remember the video segment of Ty Fahner talking about compelling Bond Rating Agencies to lower Illinois' ratings? 
Fahner: “The Civic Committee, not me, but me and some of the people that make up the Civic Committee… did meet with and call – in one case in person – and a couple of calls to Moody’s and Fitch and Standard & Poor's, and say, 'How in the hell can you guys do this? ...You're an enabler to let the state continue. You keep threatening more and more and more.' And I think now we backed off because we don't want to be the straw that breaks the back. But if you watched what happened over the last few years, it's been steadily down... We have told [the Bond Rating Agencies] that they are being irresponsible..." Click Here for the two-minute video.

Excerpts from the Illinois Public Employee Relations Report: Illinois Public Pension Reform... by Eric M. Madiar, Chief Legal Counsel to Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton and Parliamentarian of the Illinois Senate (September 29,2014)

…Madiar also recounts the “aggressive lobbying efforts by Illinois’ business community, principally the Commercial Club of Chicago (the ‘Club’) to cut the benefits of current and retired employees…; public employees and retirees’ different perspective and view [of] Public Act 98-0599 [Senate Bill 1]…; Illinois’ long history of underfunding public pensions…; [that] chronic underfunding continued after the Pension Clause’s adoption in 1970…; [that] pension underfunding was further aggravated during Governor Thompson’s tenure…; the 1995 Funding Plan by design increased unfunded pension liabilities…; [and] the lack of proper pension funding stemmed from a flawed fiscal system…”

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