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

Friday, July 9, 2010

Our Broken Discourse

Another example of our punditocracy failing us: this commentary by Josh McMahon:
Despite all the noble populist pap about giving taxpayers control the result is a familiar one: They're going to be duped once again.
Property taxes aren't going to be capped at 2 percent, no matter what you hear. New Jersey is not about to relinquish its spot atop the nation's list of most onerous property taxes.
 Gee, why not?
What did he [Christie] settle for? Exemptions for debt service and health care cost increases and pension payments and unexpected jumps in school enrollments....
The New Jersey School Boards Association reports that health care costs increased an average of 20 to 25 percent last year for districts that were part of the state plan. Even higher increases are anticipated this year.
Under the tax cap legislation that seems all but sure to become law, most of that 25 percent rise will be passed along.
Taxpayers don't have to be consulted, let alone asked to vote on it.
Same goes for pension increase.
And debt service.
Combined, those three are the steroids of property taxes. 
OK... so how are you going to control them? How are you going to get property taxes off of these steroids?

Josh doesn't say.

Oh, sure he alludes to "pressure" from unions, but what is he really trying to tell us? That public employees have to absorb all of the increases in the costs of their health insurance? That the pension promises should be broken? That towns and schools should start defaulting on their debt?

No, he won't say that, because it's easier to rant and rail about property taxes than actually tell us straight up what to do to cap spending.

I am constantly amazed at how glibly that increases in health care costs get reported. First of all, no media outlet has bothered to find out what the increases really are. Second, it's always reported on like there is nothing to be done about it - it's inevitable.

But if the punditocracy went after insurance companies with just half of the zeal with which they go after  public employee unions...

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