Zorn sneers at Biss’ change of heart on pensions. But Zorn’s solution to pensions was also unconstitutional.


Writes Eric Zorn in Sunday’s Tribune:

On “Hitting Left,” a locally produced progressive podcast, Biss prostrated himself for the hosts. “I fell for the culture of Springfield,” he says.

He follows this by explaining that he now believes the pension problem can be tamed without cutting any worker’s benefits — by consolidating plans, raising more money through a graduated state income tax and a tax on financial transactions, and forcing the General Assembly to make the annual pension investments recommended by actuaries.

Whether those who raged at Biss in 2013 about his sponsorship of “pension theft” will accept as genuine his abject, self-abasing apology remains to be seen.

His support wasn’t, after all, merely an impulsive vote or momentary apostasy. For many months, Biss was the face and go-to defender of what turned out to be an unconstitutional proposal.

Hitting Left, the podcast that Zorn accuses Daniel Biss of prostrating himself for, is the show my brother, Mike Klonsky and I do every week.

You can hear the show with Daniel Biss here and decide for yourself whether he prostrated himself.

I doubt you will find prostration. I found it to be a lively give and take. Biss, my brother and I found plenty of topics that we disagreed about. So much for prostration.

Note to Eric Zorn.

Here is your exchange with my friend Glen Brown on pensions back when you and Daniel Biss were on the same side.

My view, which is based neither on case law nor an educated analysis of Constitutional intent, is that future pension benefits based on future service ought to be as re-negotiable as is future salary based on future service.

I can see why you don’t like my view — it suggests pension plans shouldn’t be the secure super-contracts teachers have long assumed they are – but I don’t see why you find it morally and ethically objectionable. Most of us face less than certain futures and must deal with changing circumstances – suddenly higher taxes, for example, foisted on us by politicians whose lives have become a Hitchcockian nightmare of chickens coming home to roost.

In theory, public pension systems are a fine idea. In practice, they’ve inspired politicians to saddle their successors and taxpayers of the future with additional burdens and investment risk, paying for today’s goodies with tomorrow’s money (or, in the case of suburban school districts and municipalities, other people’s money). Teachers unions have showered these same profligate pols with millions in contributions.

Wow. Until I went back and read this today I forgot Zorn wrote all this while admitting he had no knowledge of case law or constitutional intent.

And he did that responding to Glen who knew quite a lot about case law and constitutional intent. Glen shared that with Zorn to no avail.

Zorn was correct today to point out JB Pritzker’s double talk in running ads attacking Daniel Biss’ pension record when Pritzker himself contributed heavily to anti-pension political action committees.

But Zorn sneering at Biss’ change of views on pensions rings hollow considering that Zorn too supported an unconstitutional solution to the pension issue.

But with no follow up change of heart.

Eric. Were you wrong then? Or now?

I’m not asking Zorn for prostration. But a little confession by Zorn is good for the soul.

I think Daniel Biss would agree.


3 Replies to “Zorn sneers at Biss’ change of heart on pensions. But Zorn’s solution to pensions was also unconstitutional.”

  1. I am worried about Ives. Despite all the case law on our side, she still thinks she can simply wish pension obligations away. Since Rauner is such a bad politician, she may beat him in the primary, and she is a more attractive candidate than any Democrat. She has charisma. God help us.

  2. “I can see why you don’t like my view — it suggests pension plans shouldn’t be the secure super-contracts teachers have long assumed they are..”

    You mean like the Social Security payments that you will receive that are denied to Illinois teachers – even if they or a spouse paid into Social Security?

    1. My social security was reduced to the point of where it pays for Medicare B, with just a few dollars left, not even enough to cover the Trail insurance payment.

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