Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Bottom Line on Wisconsin

The size of the Wisconsin Governor's tax cuts for Big Business and the rich? $140 million. The size of the cuts he's trying to make to public employees? $140 million.

Now factor in the fact that the unions will agree to the cuts if the Governor agrees not to go after collective bargaining, and where does that leave us? A Governor who manufactured a crisis in order to help his friends and take a bat to the one group of organizations left that can combat big national corporations and the wealthy elite: unions.

This is not about the money; this is about breaking the will of the American worker, and tearing apart the last big force left to confront the moneyed interests of the right-wing that would like to roll us all the way back to before the Enlightenment. They want a plutocracy, folks. Don't let them have it. We need to do what we can to help the hardworking people of Wisconsin.

Here's what you can do locally:

Call the Wisconsin State Democratic Party at (608) 255-5172 to find out how to participate in a virtual phone bank, or join a rally at the State House on Tuesday, from 4-6pm, to support the protests in Madison and elsewhere. 


MiddleboroReview said...

In this entire saga, the most sinister strategy is how effectively the Republicans have divided the American people - first, it was the poor, now it's dividing the middle class and rewarding the wealthy.

It's disappointing, to say the least, that so many believe and follow.

Ryan said...

I know exactly what you mean. They have Tea Partiers whipped up into a frenzy, believing teachers and nurses are the fat cats, coming to the defense of the banksters. It's very sad.

Mark Belanger said...

Massachusetts has an unfunded OPEB liability of $20B - maybe as much as $30B. Public employee contributions to their pensions are no where near the level required to fund the benefit.

I'm a Democrat - and a liberal one at that. How do we pay for these things without driving up debt and deficits? The answer is we can't. Public pay and benefits are drastically higher than their private sector counterparts and their unions are breaking the backs of local governments.

The Democratic party is on the wrong side of this issue. If the argument for continuing this policy is that Democrats need the union vote - there is a real problem.

Ryan said...

Massachusetts public employees don't get Social Security, Mark. Take their pensions away, or drastically reduce them, and you're putting tens of thousands of public workers in the poor house when they retire. That's an atrocious idea.

Yes, some additional reforms are needed in the pension system, but the reality is that the reason they're underfunded today is because the government side of the equation hasn't been putting in its contributions at the recommended levels for... well, pretty much ever. If there isn't enough money in the budget, that's not our workers' fault, it means we need more revenue from those who can afford to pay it.

Ryan said...

(The wealthy elite and big business, of course.)

Marese M said...

Whether you or I like it or not, the are an economic Chernobyl waiting to happen and are fiscally unsustainable.

There are several problems with public pensions.

Neither the government nor the employees are contributing to them at a level sufficient to cover the overly generous benefits they get. This is killing local and state budgets.

Government pensions, at least in my town, pay the retirees healthcare - in return for as little as 10 years of service in some cases. These retirees are never forced onto Medicare. My town has over $100M in unfunded healthcare liablility alone over the next 30 years.

The pensions are guaranteed - regardless of how the pension funds perform. In the real world, my self-funded pension will pay me whatever it earns - or loses in the case of a bad market. In my town, like most, we are doing pay-as-you-go for healthcare for current and past employees - to the tune of more than $8M a year - almost 15% of our budget.

Public employees should have EXACTLY what I have - a self funded pension and no free healthcare when they retire. If they want to retire at age 55 - let them fund their own healthcare like I'd have to do. You ought to get a load of the parade of department heads in my town that retire in their 50's pulling in 100K a year in pensions and benefits. It is simply crazy and my kids are paying for it in the way of crowded classrooms and less resources for education and other services that would benefit them.

Certainly we need to meet SOME, maybe even most of the current pension obligations. Going forward the only thing that is sustainable is self-funded pensions. Public employees should get benefits that are comparable to private sector ones - and nothing more.

Ryan said...


With all due respect, the unions have agreed to *all* of the economic concessions Governor Walker asked for. All of them. So talking about the budgetary side of things is moot, this is not what Governor Walker's battle is about.

Ryan said...

PS Marese,

In Massachusetts, public employees put an enormous sum of their salaries into their public pensions -- and they are not eligible for their full social security benefits, even if they paid into Social Security for much of their lives. It's different in other states, but when you talk about taking a bat to pensions for public sector employees in Massachusetts, beware of the consequences when those very same people will not have Social Security to come to their aid. You're talking about sending a lot of these people to the poor house, despite the fact that they've paid into their pensions for their entire career (probably more than the vast majority of the population pays into 401(k)s).

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