Send in the Clown (Big Jim Thompson on Pension Fixes)
The liberal writer Chris Hedges warned us that “The power elite, especially the (pretend) liberal elite, has always been willing to sacrifice integrity and truth for power, personal advancement, foundation grants, awards, tenured professorships, columns, book contracts, television appearances, generous lecture fees and social status” (http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_treason_of_the_intellectuals_20130331/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Truthdig%2FChrisHedges+Chris+Hedges+on+Truthdig).
Enter ex-Illinois Governor “Big Jim” Thompson“ stage right.
“On March 14, former Illinois Gov. James Thompson spoke at a gathering of the World Presidents' Organization in Chicago and urged the business leaders there to get active in the push to fix the state's pension and budget problems. Mr. Thompson provided Crain's a transcript of his remarks… (http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20130403/OPINION/130409951).
As the General Assembly pivots and careens between what is fiscally effective and what might be unconstitutional, former Governor Thompson provides the same kind of simplistic thinking and thievery that characterized his own administration’s total disregard for the public sector workers and the pension protection clause that was sculpted to protect them from voracious, unethical politicians like “Big Jim Thompson.”
Many sensible legislators and economists have started looking at possible systemic problems with the revenue structure in Illinois, one of less than eight states that rely on an antiquated flat tax rate system. In fact, our neighbor Iowa has a graduated system that would provide our own state with additional billions of dollars, but not enough in the General Assembly seem ready to embrace that kind of forward thinking.
Back to the Future: Big Jim would avoid any alterations in the current revenue stream – no transaction taxes, no service taxes, no graduated income tax, repeal of the 2% increase, etc.
Instead, Big Jim suggests we stop “demonizing the public employees” and then “abolish the compounding cost-of-living adjustments.” He also urges the State of Illinois increase employee contributions, force simple interest cost of living, and increase health care costs. What?
Thanks, “BIG JIM,” the administrative manager who reduced our pensions by running the unfunded liability with a roller-coaster funding record from a high of approximately 90 percent then down to 30 percent.
In the end, Thompson issues his audience a challenge. Nope, it’s not to find the Tylenol killer that Big Jim and Ty Fahner lost in ineptitude. Nope, it’s not the renewed analysis of DNA for Gregory Dotson and the underwear that Jim used to wave in front of cameras – before Dotson was released.
It is instead to threaten any legislator who plans to do “nothing” about pension reform. Thompson suggests we give our political donations to groups that run attack ads against those who do nothing about pensions. “’I'm going to contribute to a group that's going to run attack ads against legislators who do nothing about the pension crisis,' that would get their attention."
But here is the biggest and possibly most laughable rewrite of history from Big Jim one could ever imagine: “The point is, people in this state have allowed things to go so far that some public officials think they can get away with anything. And they have. And let's stop pointing our fingers about who's responsible for this — the Legislature, the governor, the public employees. It's irrelevant. They're all responsible. And we're all responsible.”
Here's lookin’ at you, kid.