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Sun Jan 27, 2013, 09:31 AM

Pension Panic Fueled by Anti-Worker Politics? by Michelle Chen

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/01/27


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie led the conservative charge to wiggle out of pension promises. (Bob Jagendorf/Flickr/Creative Commons)

It’s a common refrain in local papers: State faces pension funding crisis! Retiree benefits out of control! Public pensions bog down taxpayers! Pension costs seem to loom over so many state and local budget battles like a sinister sword of Damocles, a dark reminder of Big Government’s tyrannical profligacy.


Should we panic? Well, according to a new report by the Pew Center on the States, 61 cities face a collective fiscal retirement burden of more than $210 billion, in part because consistent underfunding of benefits leaves yawning gaps in long-term cost projections. The report surveyed all U.S. cities with populations over 500,000, along with the most populous city in each state. Some cities are doing better than others in maintaining funds, but gaps persist, according to Pew’s estimates for fiscal years 2007-2010, especially in municipalities where local governments have lacked the “fiscal discipline” to keep up pension fund contributions—a situation exacerbated by the Great Recession.

But different political actors have different motives for expressing alarm over pension gaps. In some cases, dubiously calculated figures have inflated public concern.

Sometimes, politicians frame cost-cutting proposals as if “generous” benefits themselves are the problem, as opposed to officials failing to uphold the commitments they've made to civil servants.

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Reply Pension Panic Fueled by Anti-Worker Politics? by Michelle Chen (Original post)
xchrom Jan 2013 OP
Gidney N Cloyd Jan 2013 #1
Demo_Chris Jan 2013 #2
Downwinder Jan 2013 #3
Demo_Chris Jan 2013 #4

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 09:51 AM

1. If gov't pension obligations magically went away, what would politicians steal from next?

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 09:57 AM

2. When someone has no benefits or pension...

 

When someone has no benefits or pension it's tough to get them to care about someone else's benefits or pensions. Particularly when the folks with nothing are being asked to pay for it.

We have close to a third of all US families living in or near poverty, and many many more who are actually only a paycheck or outsourced job from the chasm themselves. These are the people, with no money or benefits themselves, who we must ask to pitch in just a bit more to cover these public employees -- many of whom already have decent pay and comparably fantastic benefits.

That's the argument we must make, and it's a damn tricky thing to sell.



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Response to Demo_Chris (Reply #2)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 10:17 AM

3. The private sector has been allowed to get out of their pension

obligations. Look at the way bankruptcies have been been used to avoid pension obligations. Many who were promised pensions have been reduced to relying on Social Security. It will be hard to justify to someone relying solely on Social Security giving additional benefits to others.

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Response to Downwinder (Reply #3)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 11:02 AM

4. Yep. And equally hard to ask Walmart workers to care (nt)

 

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