The next big target in Governor Scott Walker’s crosshairs is the Wisconsin Retirement System, and the lies have already begun. At stake: literally billions of dollars.
Governor Walker and his minions – ALEC, The Heritage Foundation, and their ilk – and their radio mouthpieces, like Charlie Sykes, Vicki McKenna, Jerry Bader, and their ilk – are already busy spreading the lie that the Wisconsin State Retirement System is a “drag on the economy.” You’ll hear that phrase a lot.
Outfits like the crypto-conservative Heritage Foundation will gin up some bogus numbers that will indicate participants in the state retirement system have a Cadillac setup, far better than any pension plan available in the private sector. They’ll create the fiction that the taxpayers are funding lavish retirements for lazy, unproductive state workers.
And Charlie and Vicki and Jerry will shout these lies at the top of their lungs until enough people are taken in by the lies, paving the way for “reform” to the system.
In this case, that unnecessary “reform” means taking control of the money away from the state investment board and converting the system from a pension plan to a 401(k) system, all to be “managed” by private banks and investment houses.
You know: the folks who brought us wonderful innovations like mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps. The folks like Jamie Dimon, who have a multi-billion dollar “oops!” every so often.
Those with short memories may not recall the early drumbeat to “privatize” Social Security that President George W. Bush began in the summer of 2001. He was laying the foundation to move Social Security from the government to Wall Street. The Dow was booming; the rich were getting fantastically richer; and then something happened that ended President Bush’s plan to move trillions of dollars to his investment banker buddies. 9-11 happened, and the dialog about privatizing Social Security suddenly disappeared.
Anyone who’s participated in a 401(k) plan knows exactly what happened to their retirement money when the economy came tumbling down in 2008. In a matter of months, half their life savings – or more – disappeared. Oops.
Here is the truth: the Wisconsin Retirement System is extremely strong, is one of the best-managed retirement systems in the nation, is not a “drag on the economy”, and doesn’t need fixing.
But Governor Walker will fight hard to privatize it, to move those billions of dollars over to the Wall Street crowd. Because if he can pull this rabbit out of the hat, he will be rich beyond the dreams of avarice, and his family and heirs will live in comfort forever. Even if he’s drummed out of office, if he can do this gigantic favor for the Wall Street gang, they’ll reward him with board memberships, honoraria, and perks that would make Donald Trump blush.
The battle is already on, but the war isn’t over. Be afraid; be very afraid. Your pocket is about to be picked again.