The Big Pension Lie

With the right driving hard on the “It’s Working” meme as a clever description for Walker’s failing policies, I think it’s important to review one of the original Big Lies told by the Satraps of Fitzwalkerstan: Public Employees Need To Pay For Their Pensions and Healthcare!

Remember, kids, when the Satraps say it, they’re lying! (from 02/11)

Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin’ s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers.

How can that be? Because the “contributions” consist of money that employees chose to take as deferred wages – as pensions when they retire – rather than take immediately in cash. The same is true with the health care plan. If this were not so a serious crime would be taking place, the gift of public funds rather than payment for services.

Thus, state workers are not being asked to simply “contribute more” to Wisconsin’ s retirement system (or as the argument goes, “pay their fair share” of retirement costs as do employees in Wisconsin’ s private sector who still have pensions and health insurance). They are being asked to accept a cut in their salaries so that the state of Wisconsin can use the money to fill the hole left by tax cuts and reduced audits of corporations in Wisconsin.

As I’ve said from the beginning, what Walker has done was unstick the wages of public employees to drive them downward in order to fund his giveaways to corporate donors.  Prices (the price of wages for instance) tend to be sticky, that is, they are resistent to reaching equilibrium for a variety of regulatory and social reasons (employers are reluctant to cut wages, even in a downturn).  Walker’s plan forced the issue by cutting wages of government employees thereby “unsticking” them.  We are all seeing the consequences of trying to force a movement toward a perceived equilibrium.  And he will see it when he is recalled.

One correct way to describe this is that the governor “wants to further reduce the cash wages that state workers currently take home in their paychecks.” Most state workers already divert 5 percent of their cash wages to the pension plan, an official state website shows.

Gov. Walker says that he wants them to “contribute more” via deductions from their paychecks. But since the workers already contribute 100 percent of the money going to the pension plan the real issue is changing the accounting for this to reduce cash wages.

Walker’s pension and healthcare plan was a lie when he proposed it and it’s still a lie now.  The plan was always to extract more income from the middle class and hand it to his wealthy contributors.

By falsely describing the situation the governor has sought to create the issue as one of the workers getting a favor. The Club for Growth, in broadcast ads, blatantly lies by saying “state workers haven’t had to sacrifice. They pay next to nothing for their pensions.”


Related Articles

2 thoughts on “The Big Pension Lie

  1. I spoke to a compensation consultants regarding union pensions / health care versus private sector and he said that they aren’t comparable. Pensions and retirement plans are exorbitant vis a vis private sector counterparts because their purpose is to deceive taxpayers on two fronts. First, to claim budgets are balanced when they are diverting costs through unfunded pensions (illinois). Second, to convince people public sector employees are underpaid by concealing the annuity value of pensions (often over 7 figs).

Comments are closed.