Saturday, October 24, 2015

Is Rauner the Trib's Hurricane Katrina???

Is Rauner the Trib’s Hurricane Katrina?

Kristen McQueary, the Tribune editorialist who recently wished she could conjure another Hurricane Katrina to solve the public school crisis in Chicago, has now selectively chosen her unique version of the history of pension debt in Illinois to denounce Madigan’s and the Democratic Party’s resistance to Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda.
"How Illinois Democrats hoodwinked the middle class." (10/23/15)

According to McQueary, it was and continues to be all things Democratic Party that pushed the people of Illinois into this over-$100 billion unfunded liability in pension debt.

“Remember the next time Democrats in this state claim to be the party protecting the middle class.  They’re not telling the truth.”  (Sic - dependent clause)

The Democratic Party did this?

Sorry, Kristin, but we all are to blame for this one, which is why the Illinois Supreme Court in a unanimous decision warned that we are and will continue to be on the hook for what we’ve done – Republican and Democrat.

Even if it comes to selling assets like the Thompson Center, which would be appropriate (see below).

As Eric Madiar, recent Chief Legal Counsel for the Illinois Senate, reminds us, we are all to blame: “According to a report from the General Assembly study of 2009, we have a state fiscal system that is so poorly designed that it failed to generate sufficient revenue growth both to maintain service levels from one year to the next and to cover the state’s actuarially required contributions.” 

Mr. Madiar’s perception includes both sides of the aisle, unlike McQueary’s.   And his legal acumen reminds us all that not much has changed over nearly 35 years.  What was a 40% unfunded liability in 1970 is now 42%. 

And, while McQueary criticizes that the Democrats were responsible for reneging on the maligned “ramp” written into law by Republican Governor Jim Edgar, she conveniently forgets Republican Governor Jim Thompson’s earlier decision to reduce payments to the annual pension costs to only 60% during his incumbency; using the savings to build roads and provide services for which he later applauded himself as a politician who never raised taxes.

IN TRUTH, Thompson's mishandling of the pension payments nearly doubled the debt and generated the need for Edgar's "ramp."

Nevertheless, we all drove to work on roads paid for by public employees' future money.  And public transportation.  And services.

No, we all – Republican and Democrat – are culpable for the Everest of debt we owe to those we promised to pay, even though you give momentary kudos to Madigan: “To his credit, Madigan finally got serious about pension reform and in 2013 passed a bill that would have stabilized the system.” 

“The courts struck it down though.”

Actually, in case you haven’t read the unanimous Supreme Court decision, the court did more than strike it down.  The Justices clearly reprimanded the General Assembly – Republican and Democrat – for considering avoiding a contractual obligation by making the injured party pay for it.  

And McQueary tosses in the silly argument that “Democrat-controlled state government in 2006 also allowed union lobbyists to join the pension system.  Be a substitute teacher for one day, and boom! You, too, can join the Teachers Retirement System…” 

Really? We all agree that this kind of less-than-artful dodge is not fiscally palatable, but a partisan reason for our total fiscal mess?   Aren’t we reaching here?

After that, McQeary goes after promises not kept to the Middle Class in Illinois – progressive taxation, minimum wage issues, property tax issues. 

How about clean air?  Global warming? 

Eric Madiar warns us that the biggest contributor to the $97 billion owed to the state retirement funds are the various Illinois governments that did not contribute enough. 

Various? That’s all of us – regardless of political affiliation.

McQueary’s visible theme: do not trust the Democrats who argue that Rauner threatens the middle class with his battle against collective bargaining. Although the current budget impasse will continue to be painful, it is a necessary palliative to making the state work well.  

McQueary’s underlying theme (leitmotif):  We need a political Hurricane Katrina (Rauner) to make everything all better.

I'm afraid we all bear the responsibility now: for the past errors and our current situation.

Don’t you love the Tribune? 

Thanks, Bruce.

1 comment:

  1. If there ever was an empty headed blonde bimbo, she's it!!!!!!