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Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:32 AM

Pension Panic Fueled by Anti-Worker Politics?

from In These Times:

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

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 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.

In New Jersey, brazenly conservative Governor Chris Christie has pushed through short-term austerity measures that ostensibly shore up pensions by shifting costs onto beneficiaries, increasing employee contributions and freezing vital cost-of-living adjustments. But the long-term liabilities remained unresolved. Shortly after Christie trumpeted his pension fix, the New Jersey Star Ledger noted that liabilities would spike again after the stopgap measures petered out, warning, “because the state won’t be making full pension payments, the gap will swell again to $58 billion by 2019, according to the state’s estimates.” ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.inthesetimes.com/working/entry/14479/pension_panic_fueled_by_anti_worker_politics/

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Reply Pension Panic Fueled by Anti-Worker Politics? (Original post)
marmar Jan 2013 OP
tjwash Jan 2013 #1

Response to marmar (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:43 AM

1. It works too.

They managed to scare monger everyone enough to pass a ballot initiative here in San Diego that got voted in a couple years ago, that fucked all new city workers hired out of what was a great pension plan.

They did it by using the old tried-but-true "look at those lazy workers getting pensions while you get nothing" approach, and the voters ate it all up. After all - why ask why you are getting hosed by your company when you can drum up enough misplaced poutrage to vote to shaft the people that supply you clean water, roads, and keep the trash from piling up in front of your house?

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