promoted by Rosi
We all know Gov. Christie’s position on public employee pensions. He wants to “reform” (i.e. heavily cut) them and is willing to compromise other priorities in pursuit of this goal. In his budget address, he explicitly said he would use a $500 million payment to the pension fund as “leverage” for broad reforms — nevermind that he is legally obligated to make that payment in this fiscal year regardless of any legislative action on pensions. The bottom line: we know where Chris Christie and other national conservative movement leaders stand on public employee pensions. Their position is clear.
What about national Democrats? more below…
Well just yesterday, Ed Rendell spoke at a Bloomberg State & Municipal Finance Briefing and said, “If Governor Christie is going after [public employee pensions], it’s the right thing to do.”
Really, Gov. Rendell?
Ed Rendell is no small fish. He recently left the governorship of Pennsylvania right next door and is a former Chairman of the DNC. So he knows politics. And surely he must realize that giving Chris Christie rhetorical cover and favorable press coverage at this point in the budget negotiations represents something of a betrayal.
There’s a lot Rendell could say about pension reform. I have no problem if he talks up the reforms he signed in Pennsylvania, though I disagree with aspects of the legislation. He could talk in general about how pensions fit into overall state expenditures and the fact that they will indeed increase as a share of state budgets if nothing is done. The public does need some educating on this front. But by dropping a quote like that, he seems to be endorsing Chris Christie’s approach to pension reform, which is extremely troubling.
The truth is that healthcare costs, not pensions, is the big driver behind state retirement liabilities. The truth is that Christie must pay into the pension fund, and New Jersey’s history of raiding and shorting that fund is a major contributor to the “crisis” we face today. The state has not lived up to its obligations to its workers, plain and simple. And it would be nice if Democrats could point out that the recession has had a massive impact on state revenues, which affects budget projections — and it wasn’t public school teachers who caused the financial crisis.
We need someone to stand up to Gov. Christie and national conservatives who are misrepresenting the facts, denigrating public employees, and generally acting like bullies. Even if you’re a progressive who supports pension reform, neglecting or refusing to call out the other side’s questionable figures and tactics puts us at a real disadvantage in the debate, and harms the interests of the people Democrats claim to represent.