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

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's Here

The NJ pension and benefits bill, that is, via the Asbury Park Press.

For pensions: 7.5% contributions, but there is now a contractual right to the employer's contribution, which I hear from some is an important victory - we'll see. Contracts are broken all of the time; the real question is whether the Legislature will have the stones to tax the wealthy and make pension payments. Are you holding your breath? Didn't think so...

Health Care: Nothing about containing costs - surprise! Boss Norcross probably wouldn't like that, would he? I find it funny (no, not really) that Sweeney can get conservatives to sign on to progressive contributions to health insurance but not to a millionaires' tax. The ramping up is cold comfort, especially since salaries are now effectively capped so they can't be raised to make up the difference. The high-deductible plan is, in effect, gambling - a terrible idea.

My take? Well, the pension stuff was inevitable. But there is no way that any public employee should go along with this until there is a serious, credible plan in place to collect the money the governments need to not only make current payments, but make up for past failures to pay. Sweeney and Christie have no right to pat each other on the back about this bill until they tell us where they are going to get the money to meet their obligations.

The health care stuff is, in a word, outrageous. Public employees are in effect being told that they have to pay for runaway health care inflation without any serious plan to get in under control. Why should we subsidize insurance company greed? Why should we subsidize the insane costs of prescription drugs? We should we continue to bend over and take it when every other country in the world manages to pay half of what we do and still gets better outcomes?

In both cases, this bill represents a true screwing of the middle class. The public employees are going to take an enormous pay cut (just what we need - another hit in demand), and the wealthy and the powerful get to keep their taxes low while the insurance industry rakes it in.

More to come as I look at this further. Just one question...

Who will ever want to be a teacher now?

"You answer." "No, you answer" "No, you answer..."

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