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The Worst Job in American Politics

Neomalthusian

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The Worst Job in American Politics - POLITICO

Excellent commentary on Illinois.

Illinois — the sixth-biggest state, by population — has seen its credit rating cut to near-junk status in the decade since the financial crisis. Its bonds are now considered as risky as those of Russia and Romania. Its pension system is in worse shape than that of almost any other state. Springfield, the state capital, has grown so paralyzed that Illinois’ own governor compared the state to “a banana republic.” And a bitter standoff between Rauner, a Republican, and Democrats in the state Legislature has left Illinois more than $7 billion in unpaid bills and a sense among the state’s residents and creditors that Illinois might not be governable anymore.

“The state is on the edge of financial collapse,” says Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, a good-government nonprofit in Chicago. What scares budget experts the most is that Illinois is facing a fiscal crisis even as the national economy, and the state’s, is roaring ahead. The unemployment rate in Illinois is 4.1 percent. “If there’s a hiccup in the economy, if there is something that’s unexpected, Illinois does not have reserves to basically weather any economic downturn at this point,” Msall says.
 

Hawkeye10

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Neomalthusian

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The problem with Illinois goes all the way back to the 1970's, to the Us v Them that was allowed to set up between the State and Chicago....our leaders refused to govern...they refused to do the work.

I am a Rockford native, moved away for the last time in 1987.

There's a limit to how much blame one can attempt to pin on the leaders when the voters have consistently put those leaders in place over the decades. Illinois voters haven't been able to figure out what's needed from their leaders. Like they just cognitively can't understand it, as evidenced by their history of continuing to elect those types of leaders over and over and continuing to be reassured by delusional finance magic and complete non-answers.
 

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There's a limit to how much blame one can attempt to pin on the leaders when the voters have consistently put those leaders in place over the decades. Illinois voters haven't been able to figure out what's needed from their leaders. Like they just cognitively can't understand it, as evidenced by their history of continuing to elect those types of leaders over and over and continuing to be reassured by delusional finance magic and complete non-answers.

This is true, we the citizens failed in our oversight duties, and it was pretty clear by 1980 that were were failing, that was the lesson of John B Anderson's run for POTUS for example. .

Also true is that the leaders did not do their jobs, and they knew that they were not doing their jobs.

But when it comes to handing out blame I say that the elite get more.

To those with the greater gifts go the greater responsibilities.

Plus we have to take into account all of the lying.

Increasingly too the failure of the University.

And the failure of journalism.

This breeds ignorance.
 

Neomalthusian

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This is true, we the citizens failed in our oversight duties, and it was pretty clear by 1980 that were were failing, that was the lesson of John B Anderson's run for POTUS for example. .

Also true is that the leaders did not do their jobs, and they knew that they were not doing their jobs.

But when it comes to handing out blame I say that the elite get more.

To those with the greater gifts go the greater responsibilities.

Plus we have to take into account all of the lying.

Increasingly too the failure of the University.

And the failure of journalism.

This breeds ignorance.

Well I can’t really disagree with those comments.

In my opinion the deepest part of this problem is that the state has a fundamental constitutional problem in how it regards pension benefits, in that it effectively mandates pension benefits can only ever increase, never decrease. Hiking pension benefits only requires passing a bill, but no bill can ever adjust it in the opposite direction. Ever. It’s considered unconstitutional.

Because pension benefits can only ever legally increase, never legally decrease, guess what? It leaves the state at extreme risk of ending up with a runaway pension benefit problem, all it takes is one or two bad point-in-time legislative/executive decisions. Example, as Jim Thompson did in 1989, when he signed a law that promised 3% year-over-year increases to benefits forever, that helped set this on a practically irreversible course. It wasn’t the only devastating blow by any means (pension holidays, for example), but the point is even the state constitution itself has contributed to the problem.

When I first read that the Illinois Supreme Court struck down a bill in 2014 that attempted to get runaway benefits under control, my immediate thought was these sociopath judges just killed their own state. But then I remembered that the state Supreme Court is supposed to interpret the state constitution, not decide cases based on what will save the state from financial disaster. And in this case the state constitution is quite clear. And therefore it is the state constitution itself that is part of the problem.
 
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This is the problem:

Illinois spent 23 percent of its annual budget on pension contributions in the most recent fiscal year and now owes its pension funds more than $129 billion.]

Compounded by this:

In 1989, Republican Gov. Jim Thompson signed a law, late in his fourth term, promising state workers that their pension checks would grow by 3 percent a year, compounded, no matter what. This guarantee has proved enormously expensive, allowing retired state workers’ pension checks to grow faster than the rate of inflation.

And this:

But unlike most other states, Illinois’ constitution stoically declares that pension benefits, once given, “shall not be diminished or impaired.”

And it's caused by public service unions. While I'm a staunch supporter of private unions, I am against public service unions for the reasons you see in the quotes.
 

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The problem with Illinois goes all the way back to the 1970's, to the Us v Them that was allowed to set up between the State and Chicago....our leaders refused to govern...they refused to do the work.

I am a Rockford native, moved away for the last time in 1987.
The problem is actually between the public service unions & government, and the citizens. Those unions cover all city, county, and state workers. It's not limited to Chicago. And it's (pension benefits) in the state constitution.
 

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Well I can’t really disagree with those comments.

In my opinion the deepest part of this problem is that the state has a fundamental constitutional problem in how it regards pension benefits, in that it effectively mandates pension benefits can only ever increase, never decrease. Hiking pension benefits only requires passing a bill, but no bill can ever adjust it in the opposite direction. Ever. It’s considered unconstitutional.

Because pension benefits can only ever legally increase, never legally decrease, guess what? It leaves the state at extreme risk of ending up with a runaway pension benefit problem, all it takes is one or two bad point-in-time legislative/executive decisions. Example, as Jim Thompson did in 1989, when he signed a law that promised 3% year-over-year increases to benefits forever, that helped set this on a practically irreversible course. It wasn’t the only devastating blow by any means (pension holidays, for example), but the point is even the state constitution itself has contributed to the problem.

When I first read that the Illinois Supreme Court struck down a bill in 2014 that attempted to get runaway benefits under control, my immediate thought was these sociopath judges just killed their own state. But then I remembered that the state Supreme Court is supposed to interpret the state constitution, not decide cases based on what will save the state from financial disaster. And in this case the state constitution is quite clear. And therefore it is the state constitution itself that is part of the problem.
You've got it, buddy! 100% accurate. The only cure is a (state) constitutional amendment.
 

EMNofSeattle

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This is the problem:



Compounded by this:



And this:



And it's caused by public service unions. While I'm a staunch supporter of private unions, I am against public service unions for the reasons you see in the quotes.

This is the problem with the left, they grow the size of the state and create massive groups of public workers. These public workers often could not find work in the private sector for anywhere near what they make in the public, teachers being the worst example. They illegally strike, they donate massive amounts of money, I'm actually convinced public sector unions are simply machines for laundering taxpayer money to donate to Democrats. ok the cop unions give to republicans, but only because to be a cop you are probably a law and order conservative.
 

EMNofSeattle

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You've got it, buddy! 100% accurate. The only cure is a (state) constitutional amendment.

Just wait until the next economic downturn though and they start sniveling to the Feds to bail them out.

this is why re-electing Trump will be essential, because if a Dem wins in 2020 the Feds will bailout the IL state's pensions.
 

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This is the problem with the left, they grow the size of the state and create massive groups of public workers. These public workers often could not find work in the private sector for anywhere near what they make in the public, teachers being the worst example. They illegally strike, they donate massive amounts of money, I'm actually convinced public sector unions are simply machines for laundering taxpayer money to donate to Democrats. ok the cop unions give to republicans, but only because to be a cop you are probably a law and order conservative.
I wouldn't necessarily call this a "Left" problem, but rather it is a public service employees union problem.
 

Hawkeye10

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The problem is actually between the public service unions & government, and the citizens. Those unions cover all city, county, and state workers. It's not limited to Chicago. And it's (pension benefits) in the state constitution.

There has been a lot of two tribes fighting to do they best they can when they are forced to co-exist because everyone lives in Illinois, but almost none of those people took much interest in the best interest of Illinois. Certainly none of these people were interested in thinking ahead. ......Look man I was there at the beginning, they were then "Let's figure out something to get us to next year, we will deal with next year next year".

Over time things got more sloppy and dishonest to get them to next year.

Kind of reminds me of how Detroit collapsed.
 

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Just wait until the next economic downturn though and they start sniveling to the Feds to bail them out.

this is why re-electing Trump will be essential, because if a Dem wins in 2020 the Feds will bailout the IL state's pensions.
I don't see why they would bail-out the state though, for a problem like this. All it takes is a constitutional change.
 

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There has been a lot of two tribes fighting to do they best they can when they are forced to co-exist because everyone lives in Illinois, but almost none of those people took much interest in the best interest of Illinois. Certainly none of these people were interested in thinking ahead. ......Look man I was there at the beginning, they were then "Let's figure out something to get us to next year, we will deal with next year next year".

Over time things got more sloppy and dishonest to get them to next year.

Kind of reminds me of how Detroit collapsed.
No argument there. And yeah, I do remember the old-days Chicago-Downstate wars, with Chicago constantly threatening to secede from the state!

But funny how all the government honchos in the state manage to get together concerning their pay & benefits!
 

EMNofSeattle

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I don't see why they would bail-out the state though, for a problem like this. All it takes is a constitutional change.

Rauner's gone, the leg is hard blue, they're not going to change the constitution.

I think they'd rather crash the state, then appeal for either a fed bailout or a massive tax increase, and they'll trot out an ad campaign with some black or latina woman who's a million years old and a beloved retired school teacher living in a cinderblock tenement cooking food over a burn barrel and say "we promised her a decent retirement after decades educating our children"

like I'm exaggerated obviously, but they have a working playbook and it's to never give up on benefits.
 

EMNofSeattle

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I wouldn't necessarily call this a "Left" problem, but rather it is a public service employees union problem.

But like exactly three types of unions are not full of leftists, the Cops and Firemen are usually conservative because they're full of (mainly white) masculine men, disproportionately more religious. and the postal service is evenly divided. but USPS isn't relavent to IL's pension problems.

The massive administrative state, teachers, social workers, environmental, regulatory, urban planning, etc are all so one sided liberal.
 

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You've got it, buddy! 100% accurate. The only cure is a (state) constitutional amendment.

And as if that weren’t an impossibly difficult task by itself, it would only be step one. It would only allow corrective action to take place. Step two would be actually taking the corrective action and changing the pension benefit structure in a significant enough way that it rights the ship.

This would be violently opposed by public employees past and present and their unions in a state that consistently votes to fill its legislature with 60%+ liberal, pro-union Democrats.

And now that the state has a Madigan-Pritzker alliance in full control, what possible hope is there that this can be fixed?
 

Neomalthusian

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Rauner's gone, the leg is hard blue, they're not going to change the constitution.

I think they'd rather crash the state, then appeal for either a fed bailout or a massive tax increase, and they'll trot out an ad campaign with some black or latina woman who's a million years old and a beloved retired school teacher living in a cinderblock tenement cooking food over a burn barrel and say "we promised her a decent retirement after decades educating our children"

like I'm exaggerated obviously

Actually I don't think you're exaggerating even a little bit, on that particular point.

As for crashing the state and appealing for a federal bailout, that kind of thing is already being discussed. A prototype is the Butch Lewis Act. It would be an insane moral hazard.
 

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But like exactly three types of unions are not full of leftists, the Cops and Firemen are usually conservative because they're full of (mainly white) masculine men, disproportionately more religious. and the postal service is evenly divided. but USPS isn't relavent to IL's pension problems.

The massive administrative state, teachers, social workers, environmental, regulatory, urban planning, etc are all so one sided liberal.
I don't know about the above. Illinois is a large state, with plenty of conservatives too. And those police & fire pensions are the highest paying of them all.
 

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Actually I don't think you're exaggerating even a little bit, on that particular point.

As for crashing the state and appealing for a federal bailout, that kind of thing is already being discussed. A prototype is the Butch Lewis Act. It would be an insane moral hazard.
Argh! I never heard of that (the bolded). It sounds terrible.
 

EMNofSeattle

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I don't know about the above. Illinois is a large state, with plenty of conservatives too. And those police & fire pensions are the highest paying of them all.

Oh yeah, the police and fire unions are full of hypocrites and hypocrites in the legislature indulge them for political support, no argument there


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Argh! I never heard of that (the bolded). It sounds terrible.

Want to cringe?


It's a UAW-devised bill. The "emergency loan" language is a guise. You can't help a state like Illinois with more debt to guarantee other debt. Illinois doesn't need to trade debt for debt, it needs its debt to go way, way down. So why pass a bill like this if it doesn't solve the problem? Either it doesn't solve the problem because it's not a bailout, in which case it's a pointless piece of garbage, or it does solve the problem because it is a bailout.
 
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EMNofSeattle

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I don't know about the above. Illinois is a large state, with plenty of conservatives too. And those police & fire pensions are the highest paying of them all.

But I also want to address this, yes there are “plenty” of conservatives in IL, just like there’s plenty in California, NY, here in WA, but plenty isn’t enough, it needs to be a majority. I don’t trust that leftists will do any reform at all until they have to, and if Cuba and Venezuela are any examples, they will happily be wrong for a long time


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Neomalthusian

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But I also want to address this, yes there are “plenty” of conservatives in IL, just like there’s plenty in California, NY, here in WA, but plenty isn’t enough, it needs to be a majority. I don’t trust that leftists will do any reform at all until they have to, and if Cuba and Venezuela are any examples, they will happily be wrong for a long time

It's probably too late for conservatives to fix this, and if they try and there's still considerable misery and failure, the liberals will just blame it all on them. Some conservatives also contributed significantly to this problem (J. Thompson in the 80s). That's not to say that there's no point attempting to fix it, but actually doing so is going to require a state constitutional amendment, for the purpose of being able to reduce previously entitled benefits. The entire state needs to come to grips with the fact that it needs to be constitutionally allowed to reduce benefits. If they don't do it on their own, there's a high likelihood it will be imposed on them by the external (feds).

I noticed when I started scoping out state government jobs in Idaho that, although they offer ridiculously generous ultra-platinum health benefits, the pay is crap, and the state actually seems to boast about how modest its pension benefit is. They come right out and say it's not very generous. But they say that as a result of that, the pension is sustainable. And that's true. Idaho has the nation's 6th best state pension system, in terms of its sustainability/financial condition.

All of that is to say, there's some indication conservatives will do a lot better managing pension systems than liberals, but it's not a universal truth. Kentucky hasn't done too great. Alaska leans heavily Republican but the state has always been extremely generous to labor unions, and they trusted some absolutely horrible management advice in the 90s, so they have one of the nation's most pathetic pensions too.
 
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