A Glimpse of Public Pension Reform in Rhode Island: Who’ll Lose Benefits? Who’ll Get Rich?

RhodeIslandSealSubmitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Last week, I wrote a post titled Looking at the Causes of the Public Pension Problem in America. In it, I provided some reasons why states and municipalities may not be able to meet their pension obligations to retiring workers: the financial meltdown and subsequent loss of billions of dollars in pension fund money, the willful underfunding of public worker pensions by states and municipalities, and the “borrowing” of pension money “to finance other budget needs.”

I did not mean to imply that many public pension plans should not be revisited…that many may not need to be reformed…that some individuals aren’t abusing the system. Still, we have not been getting the whole story about the “public pension crisis” in America from the mainstream media. I hope to provide more information on the subject to readers of this blog as I continue my research to find out what’s really going on  with public pension reform in this country.

The Institute for America’s Future recently published a report on the subject of pension reform titled The Plot against Pensions, which was written by David Sirota. In his report, Sirota said that many of the pension reforms being advocated today are akin to “President George W. Bush’s proposal to radically alter Social Security”—in that they would “transform stable public pension funds into individualized accounts.”  He adds that these pension reforms “would most often reduce millions of Americans’ guaranteed retirement benefits. In many cases, they would also increase expenses for taxpayers and enrich Wall Street hedge fund managers.”

Matt Taibbi writes about the recent “reform” of public worker pensions in the state of Rhode Island in his Rolling Stone article titled Looting the Pension Funds. His article speaks to Sirota’s claim of hedge fund managers being enriched by pension reform.

Gina Raimondo and Public Pension Reform in Rhode Island   

(Note: Gina Raimondo, the State Treasurer of Rhode Island, is a Democrat. “Raimondo clerked for U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood before joining the New York offices of Village Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Williamstown, Massachusetts.[3] She returned to Rhode Island to found the state’s first venture capital firm, Point Judith Capital.”)

According to Matt Taibbi, the state of Rhode Island declared war on public pensions and rammed “through an ingenious new law slashing benefits of state employees with a speed and ferocity seldom before seen by any local government.” Gina Raimondo spearheaded this effort as a means to avert a “looming pension crisis.” Raimondo’s reform plan—known as the Rhode Island Retirement Security Act of 2011—was “hailed as the most comprehensive pension reform ever implemented.” Reportedly, some people in the state were “overwhelmed” and didn’t know how to react to the pension reform being instituted in their state. Paul Doughty, president of the Providence firefighters union, was quoted as saying: “She’s Yale, Harvard, Oxford – she worked on Wall Street. Nobody wanted to be the first to raise his hand and admit he didn’t know what the f*ck she was talking about.”

Maybe that’s the way Raimondo, a Rhodes Scholar, wanted it. After all, people can’t complain about the bad things that might happen to their retirement pensions and benefits if they don’t know what’s really going on.

Taibbi said that no one was aware “that part of Raimondo’s strategy for saving money involved handing more than $1 billion – 14 percent of the state fund – to hedge funds, including a trio of well-known New York-based funds: Dan Loeb’s Third Point Capital was given $66 million, Ken Garschina’s Mason Capital got $64 million and $70 million went to Paul Singer’s Elliott Management.” These hedge funds will be paid “tens of millions in fees every single year…” Taibbi adds that Loeb, Garschina and Singer all serve on the board of the Manhattan Institute, “a prominent conservative think tank with a history of supporting benefit-slashing reforms.” (Note: Raimondo was named the Manhattan Institute’s “Urban Innovator” of the year in 2011.)

Former SEC watchdog Edward Siedle also had something to say about Raimondo and her pension reform plan in his Forbes article titled Rhode Island Public Pension ‘Reform’ Looks More Like Wall Street Feeding Frenzy.

Siedle:

A look behind the curtain reveals her[Raimondo’s] changes to the investment portfolio of the $7 billion Employee Retirement System of the State of Rhode Island will inevitably dramatically increase both risk and fees paid to alternative investment managers, such as hedge funds and private equity firms.

There’s no prudent, disciplined investment program at work here—just a blatant Wall Street gorging, while simultaneously pruning state workers’ pension benefits. It’s no surprise that some of Wall Street’s wildest gamblers have backed her so-called pension reform efforts in the state legislature. Former Enron energy trader emerges as a leading advocate for prudent management of state worker pensions? That’s more than a little ironic.

What’s happened to date in Rhode Island is unprecedented in public pension history and, given the myriad risks involved, should be setting off alarms: A little-known money manager hired by the state’s pension to manage a paltry $5 million succeeded in getting herself elected as state Treasurer. That means she’s now responsible for overseeing the entire $7 billion.

Essentially, there has been a coup—the foxes (money managers) have taken over management of the henhouse (the pension).  To make matters worse, she’s an unproven veteran of the “alternative” investment industry—the hallmark of which is a profound lack of transparency…

I’m all for public pension reform—prudent contributing and investing coupled with sustainable benefits. However, when alternative investment managers take control of a state pension and recklessly dump pension assets into high-cost, high-risk alternative investments, while they slash workers’ benefits, that’s no reform. Call it what it is: a money grab.

David Segal of RIFuture.org said that Raimondo had “convinced Wall Street’s 1% to pay for a secretive propaganda campaign to advocate for deep cuts in the state pension system. Doing so garnered her effusive praise from right-wing stalwarts: from the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, to the National Review, to Rhode Island’s own tiny Tea Party, which congratulated Raimondo for her ‘true leadership’ as General Treasurer.”

Segal said “Raimondo’s ‘true leadership’ consisted of slashing benefits even for already-retired seniors on fixed incomes while sending millions of Rhode Island taxpayer dollars to pay the bloated fees demanded by her hedge fund manager friends…”

Back in 2011, Raimondo informed the people of Rhode Island that in order to avoid shortfalls in the state’s pension fund, “modifications” had to be made to the cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA) that had been promised to retired state workers. She said that “real sacrifices” would be required in order to “fix” the pension.

From the website of Rhode island State Treasurer Gina Raimondo:

Cost-of-living adjustment (COLA)
The COLA is one of the most expensive aspects of the current pension system (continuing to pay out a COLA may eventually deplete the pension fund if the 7.5 percent investment return assumption is not achieved).

From David Sirota’s The Plot against Pensions:

Rhode Island:

Reviewing the state’s new hybrid plan that involves a 401(k)-style defined contribution program,

Forbes’ Ted Siedle found that the system is “unprecedented in public pension history” in that it is “just a blatant Wall Street gorging” that “will inevitably dramatically increase both risk and fees paid to alternative investment managers, such as hedge funds and private equity firms.” Siedle noted that the cut to retirees’ cost-of-living adjustments ended up “going into the already-stuffed pockets of Wall Street’s most highly-compensated gamblers—almost dollar-for-dollar,” with $2.3 billion in cost-of-living-adjustment savings going to finance $2.1 billion in fees…paid by the pension to hedge, private equity and venture capital tycoons. The Economic Policy Institute followed up with a report showing the program “actually increases costs to state and local governments and taxpayers while making retirement incomes less secure.

So…this is Raimondo’s plan for pension reform: Cut retirees’ benefits to save the state money. Then use the money saved by cutting retirees’ benefits to pay huge fees to hedge funds. Does that sound like fiscal responsibility? What kind of pension reform is that?

Matt Taibbi wrote that state workers are being required “to subsidize their own political disenfranchisement, coughing up at least $200 million to members of a group that had supported anti-labor laws.” What’s just as bad is that Raimondo claimed she didn’t know how much the state was paying in hedge fund fees when asked by Edward Siedle. Later, Raimondo told the Providence Journal that she was “contractually obliged to defer to hedge funds on the release of ‘proprietary’ information.

Matt Taibbi on How Wall Street Hedge Funds Are Looting the Pension Funds of Public Workers

In Rhode Island Treasurer Misleading Public Is Worse Than Withholding Hedge Fund Information (Forbes), Siedle told of how interested groups were demanding information from the treasurer’s office regarding Raimondo’s refusal to disclose hedge fund records to the Providence Journal:

In their letter released today four open-government groups – Common Cause Rhode Island, the state’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Rhode Island Press Association and the League of Women Voters of Rhode Island have voiced legitimate concerns regarding Rhode Island treasurer Gina M. Raimondo’s strategy of withholding hedge fund records from the local paper, the Providence Journal. The groups were reacting to a Sunday story in the Journal about the state’s $1 billion investment in hedge funds.

These groups may be surprised to learn that the Journal was neither the first nor the only party to request reports detailing the state’s hedge fund operations and fees. The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees and I, as well as others (including individual participants in the pension), have been requesting information regarding hedge fund and other alternative managers at least since the beginning of 2013. We’ve all been provided even less information than the Providence Journal.

Further, we’ve been told that we would have to pay—which the Journal did not—for the information the treasurer provided to the Journal for free. We were also warned that there was no assurance, even if we did pay thousands of dollars, that we would receive any of the details (documents without redactions) we sought.  

Matt Taibbi explains why hedge funds may not want the public to know what fees they charge:

They’re insanely expensive. The typical fee structure for private hedge-fund management is a formula called “two and twenty,” meaning the hedge fund collects a two percent fee just for showing up, then gets 20 percent of any profits it earns with your money. Some hedge funds also charge a mysterious third fee, called “fund expenses,” that can run as high as half a percent…

Matt Taibbi often describes the financial screwing of the average American by Wall Streeters and their henchmen best:

This is the third act in an improbable triple-f*cking of ordinary people that Wall Street is seeking to pull off as a shocker epilogue to the crisis era. Five years ago this fall, an epidemic of fraud and thievery in the financial-services industry triggered the collapse of our economy. The resultant loss of tax revenue plunged states everywhere into spiraling fiscal crises, and local governments suffered huge losses in their retirement portfolios – remember, these public pension funds were some of the most frequently targeted suckers upon whom Wall Street dumped its fraud-riddled mortgage-backed securities in the pre-crash years.

Today, the same Wall Street crowd that caused the crash is not merely rolling in money again but aggressively counterattacking on the public-relations front. The battle increasingly centers around public funds like state and municipal pensions. This war isn’t just about money. Crucially, in ways invisible to most Americans, it’s also about blame. In state after state, politicians are following the Rhode Island playbook, using scare tactics and lavishly funded PR campaigns to cast teachers, firefighters and cops – not bankers – as the budget-devouring boogeymen responsible for the mounting fiscal problems of America’s states and cities.

~ Elaine Magliaro

SOURCES

Looting the Pension Funds: All across America, Wall Street is grabbing money meant for public workers (Rolling Stone)

The Plot Against Pensions (Institute for America’s Future)

Rhode Island Treasurer Misleading Public Is Worse Than Withholding Hedge Fund Information (Forbes)

Rhode Island Public Pension ‘Reform’ Looks More Like Wall Street Feeding Frenzy (Forbes)

Rhode Island Pensioners 3% COLA Will Go To Pay Wall Street 4%+ Fees (Forbes)

Educating Gina Raimondo, Rhode Island’s Wall Street-Friendly State Treasurer: Rhode Island’s State Treasurer Needs to Learn More About How Wall Street Conflicts of Interest, High Investment Fees and Risky Hedge Funds Harm Pensions (Forbes)

Matt Taibbi on How Wall Street Hedge Funds Are Looting the Pension Funds of Public Workers (Democracy Now!)

Raimondo raises support, while protesters raise their voices/ Poll (Providence Journal)

Former SEC watchdog Edward Siedle criticizes Rhode Island treasurer’s pension strategies (Providence Journal)

In hedge fund world, transparency takes a hit (Providence Journal)

Raimondo’s Wall Street campaign for Governor: Raimondo, American LeadHERship PAC: ‘hundreds of Joe Mollicones’ (Progressive Charlestown)

New study by ALEC praises Raimondo for pension changes (WPRI)

Gina Raimondo Biography (Wikipedia)

Two And Twenty (Investopedia)

74 thoughts on “A Glimpse of Public Pension Reform in Rhode Island: Who’ll Lose Benefits? Who’ll Get Rich?”

  1. The myths behind public-employee pension reform
    David Sirota and Matt Taibbi
    Thursday, October 10, 2013
    http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/openforum/article/The-myths-behind-public-employee-pension-reform-4885998.php

    Excerpt:
    Since the once-great city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy, Americans everywhere are in a panic. Is my city next? Is my state facing financial disaster? From Wisconsin’s controversial Gov. Scott Walker to New Jersey’s Chris Christie, politicians all over seem to be telling us the answer is yes. The fiscal end is nigh, these leaders say, if America doesn’t act soon to slay one of the last great budgetary dragons held over from the entitlement age: our allegedly outmoded, unsustainably expensive system of state and municipal pensions.

    In the new fable, state and municipal workers are presented as the welfare queens of our age, historical anachronisms living fat and happy in the competition-free panacea of public service, and shamelessly living off the tax dollars generated entirely by the innovation of America’s true workforce – its go-getting private-sector employees, who long ago stopped expecting their bosses to give them real health and retirement plans.

    To them, the old-fashioned defined-benefit pension plan, the one that guaranteed a unionized state worker extensive health benefits and a sizable monthly retirement check until his (invariably too-distant) death, is the glaring budgetary inefficiency of our age, the first place we must turn to make the fiscal cuts if we don’t want to become the next Detroit.

    Pension reform advocates have cited these tales to make their legislative pitches. In state after state, politically active billionaires such as former Enron executive John Arnold, finance-sector think tanks like the Manhattan Institute, and foundations viewed as centrist, such as the Pew Center on the States, have all pushed to cut public workers’ guaranteed retirement income, transform pensions into 401(k)-style individual accounts, and turn over the management of pension money to, well, people like the hedge-fund CEOs on the board of the Manhattan Institute. Such reforms are then portrayed as benevolent and transparent initiatives to protect taxpayers and balance budgets.

    To a lot of Americans, these purported pension solutions seem logical because the underlying stories about public pensions are compelling. Most Americans know a retired cop or teacher collecting a pension check. Few know a hedge fund CEO.

    But are those stories true? It is a particularly important question for California, as Arnold begins financing a ballot initiative campaign to radically alter the state’s pension system.

    When we evaluated the ubiquitous pension narratives (Taibbi for a lengthy feature in Rolling Stone and Sirota for a report for a progressive think tank, the Institute for America’s Future) we both found the same three problems.

    One was that the legend of the lazy, budget-devouring public-sector employee as the cause of America’s fiscal crises has in many cases been carefully manufactured by Wall-Street-funded organizations. Their goal is to pretend that modest retirement benefits are the cause of pension shortfalls. They promote this story even though data show that stock market declines from fraud in the financial services industry were most responsible for those shortfalls. The second problem is that the pension initiatives put forward by these reformers and the conservative politicians they back often propose moving America’s public pension money into labyrinthine and extremely expensive “alternative investment” programs. This is done in the name of saving taxpayer money, even though these “alternative investments” involve fees paid to billionaire money managers that are often nearly as high as the cuts to public worker benefits. In many cases, that means little real savings for taxpayers and less income for retirees – but a huge payout to Wall Street.

    The third and most disturbing thing we both found is that many states have gone to extraordinary lengths to hide the details of these pension reform plans. That means public workers are kept in the dark about where their money is being invested and about how much of their dwindling nest egg is being blown on fees for high-risk Manhattan hedge funds and private equity firms.

    This secrecy is particularly alarming.

    In more than a dozen states, legislators have enacted exemptions for hedge funds and other alternative investments to laws such as the Freedom of Information Act. Other states simply fail the transparency test. Rhode Island illustrates what that kind of thing means in practice. There, state Treasurer Gina Raimondo cited the need to protect Wall Street’s proprietary information as a justification to hide the cost estimates of the new pension system she championed in 2012. Only after that system was ratified by the state Legislature did former Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer Ted Siedle estimate that the reforms will take the roughly $2.3 billion cut to workers’ cost-of-living adjustments over 20 years and use it to pay roughly $2.1 billion in new hedge-fund fees. Raimondo later relented and disclosed at least $70 million in fees for next year alone.

  2. COLUMN-Five things to consider before cutting pension benefits
    By Mark Miller
    6/20/12
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/20/column-miller-idUSL1E8HJD5A20120620

    Excerpt:
    But – before we continue swinging the axe – here are five things to keep in mind about public sector pensions:

    1. Pensions aren’t simply a gift from taxpayers.

    They’re an integral part of total compensation, along with salary, health benefits and vacation. Unlike private sector defined benefit pension plans, most state and municipal workers contribute hefty amounts from their salaries. For those who aren’t participating in Social Security, the median contribution is 8.5 percent of pay; for those who do contribute to Social Security, the median contribution is 5 percent and rising, according to the National Association of State Retirement Administrators.

    Investment earnings account for 60 percent of all public pension revenue, NASRA reports; employer contributions cover 28 percent and employee contributions account for 12 percent.

    2. Many workers don’t get Social Security.

    Thirty percent of state and municipal workers work for states that have not opted into Social Security. That means pensions are their only source of guaranteed lifetime income in retirement. Social Security comes with automatic cost-of-living adjustments to protect retirees from inflation – a feature that is on the chopping block under many public sector reform plans.

    3. Pension underfunding isn’t as bad as you think.

    It’s true that funding in some states has dropped to frightening levels. Illinois, for example, which failed to make the necessary plan contributions for years, has a funded ratio of 43.4 percent. But nationally, the story is more positive. Aggregate asset/liability ratios have been rising. The funding level for all state plans combined was 77 percent last year, up from 69 percent in 2010, according to Wilshire Consulting.

    Most public sector pension plans have a target funding ratio of 100 percent. However, ratings agencies consider a ratio of 80 percent to be adequate. By comparison, private sector pension plans are considered at risk of default if their funded ratios fall below 80 percent.

    However, it’s worth noting that public sector funding ratios rely on long-term rate of return assumptions around 8 percent. Actuaries support that projection, since it is upheld by actual long-term investment history. But economists argue that a more conservative assumption should be used, reflecting only what a fund could earn on Treasuries or corporate bonds – closer to 4 percent. If public plans adopted lower projections, their funded ratios would be sharply lower than reported.

    4. Pensions are more efficient than 401(k)s.

    Despite the under-funding of some plans, defined benefit pensions provide retirement benefits more efficiently than defined contribution plans. The efficiencies stem from pooling of longevity risk, maintenance of portfolio diversification and professional investment by pension fund managers.

    “With a 401(k), we ask people to be their own investment advisers, which takes about 200 basis points off the return,” says Diane Oakley, executive director of the National Institute on Retirement Security, a not-for-profit research and education organization. “Then we ask them to be their own actuaries and decide how long they will need to draw their own money out – and most people can’t do that.”

    That means when workers are shifted from pensions to defined contribution, the value of benefits fall – or taxpayers are on the hook to keep benefits level. For example, a study last year by the comptroller’s office in New York City found that it would cost the city’s taxpayers 57 percent to 61 percent more to provide workers in the city’s five defined benefit plans with equivalent benefits via a defined contribution plan.

    5. The retirement crisis is real.

    The Federal Reserve’s recently issued Survey of Consumer Finances contains these stunning figures: the median American family’s net worth fell nearly 40 percent in the three years ending in 2010, and the asset accumulation of most was set back almost two decades. Real income fell 7.7 percent.

    Americans’ confidence in their ability to retire is at a historical low point. Just 14 percent report they expect to have enough money to live comfortably in retirement, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Sixty percent of households tell EBRI that the total value of their savings and investments -excluding their homes – is less than $25,000.

    Against that backdrop, pensions are the only safety net available to public sector workers, especially in states where they are not enrolled in Social Security. That means there’s a real risk that pension reforms could push public sector retirees into poverty.

    Consider the actuarial assessment of pension reform in one such state – Louisiana, where Gov. Bobby Jindal this month signed a bill that would put new hires into a 401(k)-style cash-balance pension plan starting in 2013. A report by actuaries for the Louisiana legislature concluded that “. . . because there is no Social Security coverage, such a member may very well become a ward of the state because he or she has no other available resources.”

  3. Rhode Island’s New Hybrid Pension Plan Will Cost the State More While Reducing Retiree Benefits
    By Robert Hiltonsmith
    Economic Policy Institute
    June 20, 2013
    http://www.epi.org/publication/ib366-rhode-islands-hybrid-pension-plan/

    Excerpt:
    Most state and local governments provide traditional defined benefit (DB) pensions, enabling their employees to retire with secure, predictable, and adequate retirement incomes. However, in the past decade, historically low market returns, along with many governments’ failure to keep up with required contributions, have caused many state and local pension plans to be underfunded…

    Impact on state finances

    Over time, RIRSA will likely lead to a gradual improvement in the Rhode Island pension funds’ funding ratio. However, this improvement can, on net, be entirely attributed to the increase in the retirement age and suspension and reduction of COLA benefits. The change in DB accrual rates combined with the introduction of the DC plan actually increases costs to state and local governments and taxpayers while making retirement incomes less secure and failing to make up for the cuts to the DB portion of employees’ pensions. Under the old system, the most recent estimate of the normal cost to the state per employee was 2.64 percent of salary (GRS 2011a). The projected long-term normal cost to the state for the DB portion of the new system will be around 2.43 percent of payroll. Adding the state’s 1 percent contribution for the new DC plan means the state’s total contribution per employee will rise by about 30 percent (author’s analysis of GRS 2011c). To put this in perspective, in 2013, the total payroll of all state employees, teachers, and municipal employees is projected to be just over $2 billion (GRS 2011c). Over the long term, RIRSA may cost the state upwards of $15 million a year in additional contributions while providing a smaller benefit for the average full-career worker.

    The failure of the introduction of a new DC plan to offset cuts to the guaranteed portion of Rhode Island employees’ pensions is therefore not due to this change leading to lower state contributions. Rather, it is due to the inherent inefficiencies of defined contribution plans, inefficiencies that Rhode Island’s TIAA-CREF plan shares. On net, even as the state will contribute a higher amount to ERSRI than before, benefits received by retirees will be lower because defined contribution accounts’ average returns and annuitization rates are lower (DC portfolios are necessarily less diversified than pension funds’, and TIAA-CREF’s traditional annuity, while one of the better annuities offered in the private market, is still more expensive than an annuity provided through a state pension fund). Further, the accounts’ exposure to market risk creates the possibility that many individuals’ retirement income will be significantly lower than average.

    Conclusion
    Rhode Island’s pension cuts are not only bad for its employees and the state, they promote the false notion that providing retirement benefits through DC plans is a sensible or viable option for pension plans facing shortfalls. Defined benefit pensions remain the most efficient means to provide retirement income for all workers, public and private, and states looking to solve shortfalls in their plans should not turn to DC plans, which simply shift risks without lowering costs. Instead, they should find ways to preserve retirement benefits through their existing systems. However, states can still learn from Rhode Island’s example by recognizing that they must preserve the pensions that have provided retirement security for generations of Americans if they wish to continue to provide the public services that taxpayers rely on.

  4. 200k more votes and this radio DJ prank call was played thousands of times during the recall. Every voter in Wi. had it slammed down their throat and they spit it out. I know it’s red meat for you carnivores, but most folks are omnivores and can see, smell and taste spoiled meat. The voters spoke loudly and clearly, move on.

  5. Wonderful catch Elaine….

    I note you noted that this was a democrat….. Another sell out….

  6. Excellent article Elaine. Public pensions are just another profit opportunity for Wall Street and they’re going after all of them. It is, along with the attacks on public sector unions, another way for the wealth class to hollow out the middle class on the way to a neo-feudalistic state.

    pdm, nice work.

    You said: ” As I recall there was some fast and furious voting going on in the legislature about this with Dems fleeing the state in an attempt to block the bill. There may have even been some votes in the middle of the night. But for sure, it was happening fast.

    I’m not a union member so I’ve no experience with pulling together a vote (isn’t a consult actually a vote?) ”

    Whether or not ratification is necessary is an internal union matter and is generally set down in the union’s by-laws or determined before a negotiation with a vote of the membership.

    You were right about votes being taken, and fast, [so fast they may have violated other laws]. The first link below gives you the short form and the second link is a 12 minute segment on Maddow that has the union-stripping vote video as part of it.

    The assertions above that the union somehow sold the membership out is ridiculous, the Republican Wisconsin legislators voted to prohibit collective bargaining. Public unions are always at a disadvantage in bargaining because if the political will is there and the votes can be corralled the state has a nuclear option, which Scott Walker used.

    I’ll post another link in a separate posting, the transcript of the Walker Koch transcript. Recall Walker was pranked with a phone call that he thought was from David Koch? Just to refresh memories. A Wisconsin Governor taking a call from a Kansas mega-gazillionaire to talk anti-union sh*t and strategy, kinda’ says it all about what’s what when it comes to the war on America’s workers. A Republican/1%er wet dream come true.

    [there is an introductory commercial]

    http://www.nbcnews.com/id/45755883/ns/msnbc-
    the_last_word/vp/41998188#41998188

    http://video.msnbc.msn.com/rachel-maddow/41999124#41999124

  7. Elaine. Doesn’t Pierce’s line just say it all? Simply beautiful. The man is a genius. Even better….a funny one.

    Ahem…that would be “Pierce” in case anyone in these parts is confused.

  8. rafflaw,

    Charlie Pierce who writes a politics blog for Esquire has referred to Wisconsin as Scottwalkerstan and to Scott Walker as “the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin.”

  9. GREAT ARTICLE ELAINE. might i suggest that a great read would be money: The 12th and final religion by R duane willing

    http://www.rduanewilling.com/

    he has a blog that explains the swindle that is known as wall street and how they manage to run the swindle and never go to jail. or face any kind of oversight period.

    one thing he doesnt use real names but the aliases he does use lets you know exactly who he is talking about.

  10. Here’s another little tidbit about the most miserable governor of Wisconsin. He has enacted a law? a regulation? (not sure which), that allows him to sell any public utility at any time, at any price, without any member of the public being able to ask any questions or protest.

    Nick, do you object to that? It sorta seems to run counter to your feelings about union reps not “consulting” with membership

    Wisconsin. Visit it soon. Koch has his hands around it and it won’t be worth very much soon.

  11. Good grief. How can anyone read that Huff Post article and not be disgusted by the obvious negation of worker’s rights. When did it become illegal to belong to a union?

    It also did away with automatic collection of dues and requires annual recertification.

    Nick, your ‘explanation” of the single component of the Walker Law is pretty much ground to dust.

    Now you will have to excuse me. My tongue is a bloody pulp as I resist telling someone what I really think of …….

  12. Nick. You make statements. Those statements have been challenged but remain unanswered.

    What happened to your frequently stated position that the ONLY thing the Walker law did was to permit optional membership to the union? With the accompaning scarcasm of “what a radical idea”.

    Now it is something….something….certified representation.

    What happened to my challenge that union members paid nothing toward health benefits?

    I’ll stop there. I think you lose your focus when given too many questions.

    Bron is interested in the Soviet Union and you’re interested in FDR. I can’t wait for the discourse on Ayn Rand.

    The Huffington Post objection is a pathetic attempt to fling poo at a GB who has the gall to use actual sources and research as opposed to your two buddies who provide the proof of whatever you have to say must be god’s own truth.

    Pretty much your low point.

  13. “David Segal of RIFuture.org said that Raimondo had “convinced Wall Street’s 1% to pay for a secretive propaganda campaign to advocate for deep cuts in the state pension system. Doing so garnered her effusive praise from right-wing stalwarts: from the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, to the National Review, to Rhode Island’s own tiny Tea Party, which congratulated Raimondo for her ‘true leadership’ as General Treasurer.”

    I would think that Larry Kudlow of CNBC gives his full support to Raimondo. I do think that the talking heads on TV, and speaking mouths on right wing radio have taken this ball and been playing serious major league tilting of the field of play.

    Just as Cheney fed Judith Miller BS info to be published in the NYT, then quoted the Times to prove his point. So too are the CorporateMegaWealth Gods feeding their MSM lackeys BS and then quoting them to prove their point. The common busy working person does not have a chance.

    Show me the money is not the cry of the super rich. They do not want to show “us” the money. Their meme is “Look there is no money” … therefore we have to cut cut cut.

    PS. I do not understand how pension investment plans do not demand tough transparent oversight.

Comments are closed.