Feb 25, 2011

The middle class, it’s their fault!

Demonizing the middle class seems to be a rather stupid-ass way to fix state budgets, at least on the political side of the coin, but the rightwing Republicans are doing just that and making it work for them. One would think the elected Democrats would love to have this fight, but so far...they are saying very little, at least on the national level. From Robert Reich:
The second part of the Republican strategy is being played out on the state level where public employees are being blamed for state budget crises. Unions didn’t cause these budget crises — state revenues dropped because of the Great Recession — but Republicans view them as opportunities to gut public employee unions, starting with teachers.

Wisconsin’s Republican governor Scott Walker and his GOP legislature are seeking to end almost all union rights for teachers. Ohio’s Republican governor John Kasich is pushing a similar plan in Ohio through a Republican-dominated legislature. New Jersey’s Republican governor Chris Christie is attempting the same, telling a conservative conference Wednesday, “I’m attacking the leadership of the union because they’re greedy, and they’re selfish and they’re self-interested.”

The demonizing of public employees is not only based on the lie that they’ve caused these budget crises, but it’s also premised on a second lie: that public employees earn more than private-sector workers. They don’t, when you take account of their education. In fact over the last fifteen years the pay of public-sector workers, including teachers, has dropped relative to private-sector employees with the same level of education – even including health and retirement benefits. Moreover, most public employees don’t have generous pensions. After a career with annual pay averaging less than $45,000, the typical newly-retired public employee receives a pension of $19,000 a year. (emphasis mine)
Nothing the rightwing governor's are attributing to the unions and their workers is true.  So, why aren't the nationally-elected Democrats addressing these lies in the national media? Why is it being left to the state Democrats to deal with these lies and obfuscations from the rightwing Governors?

This should be a national debate, but it isn't. I do not understand why Obama, Reid, Pelosi and all the rest of the Congress critters are mute. It's maddening to say the least. Whatever their logic, it isn't working as the rightwing nutters have the media in their court.  I am sick of seeing Chris Christie's mug on the national news slamming hardworking middle class state employees. He continues to scream about Social Security even though the fund is solid until 2035 at the earliest and currently contributes nothing to either the state or national budget woes. In fact, NJ has no one to blame but themselves for the public pension liabilites they currently are drowning in. From CNN:
To figure out how such a wealthy state (with a median household income of $65,933, New Jersey ranks No. 1) dug itself into this hole, set the clock back almost 20 years.

In 1990 the country was hit by a recession, and the new Democratic governor, James Florio, responded with a wildly unpopular $2.8 billion income and sales tax increase to balance the budget. Two years later, facing another budget shortfall, he turned to the state pension system for help. With almost unanimous support in the legislature, he pushed through the Pension Revaluation Act of 1992.

We'll spare you the minutiae of pension accounting and just say that the law permitted the state to recognize investment gains in the fund more quickly than under previous rules. It also lifted the projected rate of return on the fund's investments to 8.75% from 7% (since lowered to 8.25%). These "adjustments" had a big impact: According to an official Benefits Review Task Force report published in 2005, they allowed the state to cut its pension contributions by more than $1.5 billion in 1992 and 1993.

Republican Christine Todd Whitman, running on a tax-cutting platform, defeated Florio in the 1993 governor's race. To help pay for her promised tax cuts, Whitman, like her predecessor, turned to the pension fund. In 1994, at her urging, the legislature adopted another pension "reform" act that allowed her to reduce state and local contributions to the plan by nearly $1.5 billion in 1994 and 1995, according to the task force report. Florio's and Whitman's accounting changes were "the one-two punch from which the retirement system has never recovered," says Douglas Forrester, who was the assistant state treasurer under Kean.
Instead of nailing the former Republican governor Whitman and the Democrat Florio, Christie is using the time-honored tradition of blaming everyone else, but the guilty, for NJ's monetary problems. The fact is NJ has had this problem for decades and some, not all of the governors ignored it or tried to quick-fix it using smoke and mirrors.

The Obama administration and the current crop of Congressional Democrats have to step up and point out the fallacies in the rightwinger's arguments. It's time to back your state brethren on the national stage...stop letting them languish and flail about. Do not let the media and the rightwing nutters control the discussion as it only serves their own political interests, which is all they care about anyway.

Allowing the rightwing Republicans to attack the middle class is unconscionable on every level. Allowing them to pit public sector vs private sector workers is pure bullshit. The election cycle isn't anywhere near us at this point, but the extreme rightwing Governors are laying the groundwork now for 2012. If the Democrats wait much longer to address the lies and bs being spewed daily, they serve no one.

Call it what it is: Demonizing hardworking middle class public servants who make less than their private sector counterparts is contemptible and should be called out as such. It isn't just the teachers, as Governor Scott the tool Walker states daily, it's all sectors of public employees being drawn and quartered by the right, from sanitation workers to secretaries and all workers in between.

Get off your asses Obama, Pelosi, Reid and the rest of the Congress Critters, and fight as hard as the workers in Wisconsin have been fighting for weeks now. It's the least you can do. Anything less is not acceptable and downright fucking disgusting to this voter.

Today's Photo..er..Graphic..ok, Picture.

It's moving day!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have purchased a domain name. I have been meticulously working on a new site,Leftwing Nutjob. Please change your bookmarks people..this puppy will no longer be updated as of July 1st 2011.