Saturday, January 7, 2012

Math not Politics - Fixing Pensions in Rhode Island

Rhode Island has achieved a measure of pension reform, despite being a fairly blue state. From the WSJ:
The plan enacted in November cuts $3 billion of the state's $7 billion unfunded liability by raising the retirement age, suspending cost-of-living increases until the pension system is 80% funded, and even moving workers into a hybrid plan that has a smaller guaranteed annuity along with a 401(k)-style defined-contribution plan.
How did this succes come about? State Treasurer, Gina Raimondo, was able to present the facts to the voters of the state.
"No finger pointing" was her mantra, along with a corollary: "Math, not politics."
I like that last little bit. The state treasurer is a Democrat, but that didn't stop her from recognizing that the state's financial situation was untenable. Perhaps Republicans should de-emphasize blaming the unions, even if we believe they are to blame. The actuarial certainties of our entitlement programs, government pensions, medicare, medicaid and social security, are inexorable. Without change, they will eventually bankrupt us. Democrats can be left to demagogue these issues; but by proposing serious reform, it is actually Republicans, like Paul Ryan, who are doing the work necessary to save the social safety nets in this country.


  1. Only Nixon could go to China! It will take someone like Brown to fix the pension problem in California. A fellow mule is much more likely to convince the rest of the mules that cuts will have to be made. Conservative Reagan was able to raise taxes and survive politically. Johnson, a southern Texan, got civil rights past southerners. It always easier to get hard things done when its your own party pushing it on you. The question is, does Brown have the will to do it? Certainly the Arnold's attitude didn't get him anywhere.

  2. Kelly, thanks, there is probably some truth. This is part of why I think that the tea party movement needs to be non-partisan, so that we can influence how both parties approach this issue, because it will only be solved permanently in a bipartisan manner.

  3. Exactly. Thats why despite the drum circles, I believe that there is common cause to be shared between the TEA Party and Occupy that can be built upon. I think Ron Paul's huge popularity among the independents points to this. How to get through that divide is a tough one. But a unified TEA/Occupy on a few key core issues would be impossible for the pols to ignore.

    Happy New Year, by the way.