Retirement Group Blasts Pension Change Backers for “Hysteria,” Scare Tactics

July 25, 2013

Retirement Group Blasts Pension Change Backers for “Hysteria,” Scare Tactics
Join LA Mayor Garcetti in refuting ridiculous claims

SACRAMENTO _ A coalition of police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other public employees today joined Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in criticizing an ex-Schwarzenegger aide for suggesting that Los Angeles could face bankruptcy like Detroit.

"California's pension system is in better shape today than when Jerry Brown was Governor 25 years ago," said Dave Low, Chairman of Californians for Retirement Security, a coalition of 1.5 million current and retired employees. "In Los Angeles and more than 400 jurisdictions across the state, public employees are making sacrifices at the bargaining table to help our communities whether difficult economic times cause by Wall Street. It is sad and disappointing that pension bashers have to resort to this type of hysteria to grab headlines.”

In news outlets yesterday, Dan Pellissier, president of California Pension Reform, told reporters that Los Angeles would follow Detroit in the next few years. Mayor Garcetti rejected that claim, saying "We are nowhere close to Detroit. We have a population growth, where we saw their population drop in half. We’ve got robust industries, they rely on one or two. We have arguably ten or 12 primary industries here. And we’ve done the hard work with pension reform that Detroit didn’t,” he said.

Pellissier also admitted that his group’s outrageous pension-cutting plans would require government agencies to break promises made to public employees and change benefits that current employees earn in the future. "The only way that you can really deal with this is to change the promises that you’ve made to employees,” he said. Pellissier said his group is looking into a constitutional amendment that would allow future pension changes to be made.

"Breaking promises to teachers, firefighters, school employees and police officers who have worked their whole lives with the understanding that they would have a secure retirement is a non-starter," said Low. "Our pension systems have recovered all of their losses since the bank-caused recession. Voters won't fall for this kind of scapegoating of public employees."

Paul Krugman of the New York Times recently called out pension critics for using fuzzy math to perpetuate fear mongering about our nation’s pensions liabilities. “Even if the shortfall is several times as big as the initial estimate, which seems unlikely, this is just not a major national issue. So, why is it being hyped? Do I even need to ask?”

California Pension Reform is believed to be largely funded by John Arnold, a Texas billionaire who made his fortune at Enron, according to an investigate report by the Center for Investigative Journalism. The group continues to refuse to disclose its donors.