Cullerton Says “Pension No Crisis”: Well, Maybe for You, Senator
Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader John Cullerton stated the very obvious to hundreds of thousands public workers and their families in Illinois. “People really misunderstand the nature of this whole problem. Quite frankly, I don’t think you can use the word ‘crisis’ to describe it at a state level” (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/clout/chi-cullerton-pension-debt-not-a-crisis-but-about-lowering-taxes-20131020,0,4245590.story ).
Really, Senator? You need to look at the problem from another point of view.
The recent political brawling and financial feuding in the country’s capitol left bond rating companies and businesses warning that the United States of America was in serious danger of becoming untrustworthy, a deadbeat, and unreliable to its debtors.
Talking heads on all the national stations warned that such behaviors at the federal level made it unnerving and perhaps impossible to trust in monetary dealings with the federal government or the United States, given especially the likelihood of default on credit. It was a common theme. “We’ve often heard that uncertainty is bad for business; well uncertainty about whether the federal government will be open is the worst kind” (http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-a-budget/324983-government-shutdown-would-be-bad-news-for-americas-job-creators).
According to Bloomberg, default would likely devastate markets from Brazil to Zurich. Missing payments to foreign owned debt could “blow Lehman out of the water (in a comparison to the bank’s insolvency having an egregious impact on a good economy)” (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-07/a-u-s-default-seen-as-catastrophe-dwarfing-lehman-s-fall.html).
China was a bit more strident about it, suggesting strongly that American currency had seen its last days as a commodity of trust. In fact, Chinese press harangued for a new world with a de-Americanization of monetary influence (http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-china-debt-limit-shutdown-de-americanized-economy-20131014,0,1990632.story).
The world of business, Senator, does not like anxiety and uncertainty. By the way, they also abhor taxes and would cherish “pushing the pension changes for the benefit lower taxes…” as you sagely pointed out in the Tribune this morning.
Uncertainty begets anxiety, which begets caution, which begets inaction and distrust, Senator. This is BUSINESS’ warning to you. This is Fahner’s PAC We Mean Business’ everlasting mantra.
Uncertainty, anxiety, and distrust, Senator. Imagine for a short moment, Senator, that you happen to be a pensioner in Illinois, retired some decade or two or three. Perhaps you are experiencing the sudden responsibility to care for the elders in your family, parents whose care may cost nearly all of your savings or monthly pension stipends. Maybe, God forbid, you’re a pensioner who has become ill and is fighting on all fronts medically to prepare yourself for a fight which you know will test all of your savings and future earnings. Maybe you were a retiree who marched out into the small business market several years ago and suffered an unexpected financial meltdown and the tumid spread of loss of credit. Or someone with bills, or plans, or hopes of retirement, Senator?
In Illinois, nothing but uncertainty, anxiety and distrust. For hundreds of thousands of people working and retired.
You say it’s not a crisis, Senator, and I quite honestly would agree. It is a debt and revenue problem, one caused by the diversion of required contributions by the General Assembly for other perks and programs. But that’s not the direction you or your colleagues in the General Assembly will take. Now, business wants that tax roll back, and you at least see how it is on the backs of those that paid in. Thanks for that.
But your feeling sorry or being honest does not clean your hands, Senator. As Newman said in Cool Hand Luke, “That don’t make it right, Boss.”
Thanks for being honest, Senator Cullerton, but that don’t make it right.