Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Quote Of Note: The Ultimate Public Pension Reform

It seems Chris Christie sat down with the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal recently, which means that the Governor has been getting even more press from the WSJ than usual. For example, the Governor's plan to eliminate teacher tenure was prominently featured in an article by Lisa Fleischer.

And last Friday, assistant editorial page editor James Freeman published a love note to the Governor's public pension reform plans. The editorial included the following quote:

"The ultimate reform is to move to a 401(k)-style [public pension] plan that provides transparency to taxpayers while allowing government employees -- not politicians or union bosses -- to control their retirement savings with individual accounts. How to enact such reform in New Jersey? 'You get a Republican legislature, that's how you do it,' says Christie. 'I'm dealing in a context where the Democratic Party in my state has been ruled by the public-sector unions.'"

This line of reasoning brings back fond memories of George W. Bush's plan to privatize Social Security by diverting Social Security taxes into private accounts. At the time, critics viewed the plan as a giveaway to Wall Street, which would end up managing Social Security funds on a for-profit basis. Of course, this was before the Great Recession made it clear that there is real risk in relying on the marketplace for retirement funds.

So, in addition to his expansion of executive power by absorbing the Medicaid Inspector General and Inspector General into the executive branch of the State government, and his plan to absorb county prosecutors into the Attorney General's office, the Governor has now found another way to show his affinity for the Bush-Cheney-Rove faction of the Republican party -- handing government pensions to Wall Street.

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