Pensions and Politics as Usual
CHICAGO – It’s politics as usual in Chicago, despite growing national attention to the government employee pension crisis, according to the president of one of the country’s largest taxpayer organizations.
“Despite such articles as the Wall Street Journal’s 9/22/2012 ‘Pension Crisis’ proclamation, elected officials here and across the country seem to think the problem will go away if they ignore it,” said Jim Tobin, president of Taxpayers United of America (TUA).
“We have been sounding this alarm here in Illinois and across the country, and yet many, including those in the media, continue to ignore the magnitude of the pension problem.”
“Nearly every community is reaching the tipping point at which services needed today are being sacrificed for payment of services provided in the past.”
“Pension fund payments are squeezing out services, and nowhere is that more apparent than here in Chicago, where bureaucrats are calling for a $5 monthly electric surcharge, aka tax, to hire 700 additional police officers — positions eliminated from the current budget.”
“You might think that the Chicago government teachers’ strike was all about pensions, but no, the city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel didn’t even try to scale back the bloated teacher pensions. The mayor completely missed the opportunity to work on the problem for his constituents.”
“The country’s state and local government budgets are on the verge of disaster, and here in Chicago, Rahm’s rhetoric provides hot air but no solutions,” said Tobin.
“At least some, like Michael Corkery, of the Wall Street Journal, are able to see through the smoke and mirrors and call attention to the real problem with the budgets: unsustainable government pensions.”
“At every turn, politicians are looking for ways to raise taxes through additional fees and surcharges, but what they aren’t telling taxpayers is that every additional penny goes to pay for pensions that are devouring tax dollars that could have gone for services.”
“Yes, Rahm was blowing smoke when he was quoted as saying, ‘In past negotiations, taxpayers paid more but our kids got less. This time, our taxpayers are paying less, and our kids are getting more.’ Actually, Chicago homeowners will be paying more in real estate taxes, and the government-school teachers, not their pupils, will be pocketing the money.”
“But this isn’t just a Chicago problem, as many would like to believe. Our research of 18 states thus far in our nationwide pension tour reveals that government pension largesse is pervasive and consistent across the country, and very few bureaucrats have the political courage necessary to end unfunded pension liabilities altogether.”