Saturday, March 27, 2010

IL Democrats wage "all out offensive" on teachers pensions

(via Progress Illinois)

Democratic leadership, including Gov. Pat Quinn, is firmly in support of the bill. Republicans approved it without issuing major complaints. It pleased business groups like the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, as well.

Organized labor, on the other hand, is furious over the legislation -- and with good reason. Illinois' current level of benefits are modest and in line with other states in the region. The primary reason the state’s pension system is so out of whack is that state lawmakers -- instead of reforming the tax system to raise revenue sustainable and fairly -- have skimped on payments for decades, using money designated for the pension system to cover core services. In short, lawmakers misrepresented the problem instead of owning up to their own failures. And in devising a political solution, they threw their key allies under the bus. "This bill is nothing more than lawmakers shifting the burden of the state’s past mistakes onto future teachers and public employees," Ed Geppert, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, told the Sun-Times. "The problem of our pensions," echoed AFSCME Council 31 president Henry Bayer, "is not a problem of rich benefits."

My, my the Democrats are really keen on punching public school teachers in the stomach these days. The news above is another fine example of how the Democratic Party functions. You can bet, however, that if organized labor were more powerful and militant, those Democrat jerks in Springfield would have had to think twice about throwing teachers and public employees under the bus.

But instead the Democrats do what they always do: in times of crisis they shift burdens onto relatively powerless people who don't, at present, have the ability to fight back. And they use the fact that teachers and public employees have no other electoral option as leverage. As long as organized labor wants to be involved in the two-party system (although its not clear that they should want to), they have nowhere to go but the Democrats, and the Democrats know this.

The result is that Left activists, supporters and constituents stuck inside of the Democratic Party are almost in all cases a marginal appendage who merely bring votes but get nothing in return. In contrast, their right-wing "Blue Dog" counterparts have the ears of Democratic leadership whenever they voice a concern.

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