I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Sunday, February 5, 2012

"Nobody Could Have Imagined..."

I wrote about Chris Christie's broken pension promises to public workers earlier this week. One of my terrific commenters points us to a piece by Bob Herbert all the way back in 1995:
Now many of the gains made over a quarter of a century are in danger of slipping away because the current Governor, Christine Todd Whitman, has chosen to finance her political ambitions with a popular buy-now, pay-later economic policy that will place a financial stranglehold on future generations of New Jerseyans. 
This is best illustrated by Mrs. Whitman's decision to withhold billions of dollars that should be going into the public employee pension funds over the next few years, and using the bulk of that money to balance the state budget. Then, with an audacity that dazzles her supporters and even draws grudging admiration from opponents, Mrs. Whitman smiles and characterizes the withheld funds as savings. 
Of course, they are not "savings" -- not in any sense of the word. The pension obligations at some point will come due and future generations will have to meet them. 
Not only will the money have to be made up, but future taxpayers will be deprived of the income that the money -- if properly invested now -- would be expected to generate. 
Mrs. Whitman and the long-term interests of New Jersey appear to be at odds. The Governor won election by promising tax cuts, and any further advances in her career will be powered by her ability to "deliver" on that promise. Like most politicians, her eyes are on the short term: today's budget, tomorrow's election. It requires courage to look beyond Election Day to the long-term interests of constituents.
Gosh, who does that remind me of?

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