Illinois Supreme Court justice Bob Thomas challenges state’s lawyer on pension theft.
Even if the U.S. Senate passes anything close to looking like the Trumpcare health care bill that the Republicans passed in the U.S. House it will be a life-threatening disaster for millions of American families.
I can’t even make pre-existing condition visual jokes on Facebook and my blog about it. Others have tried. The crisis just can’t be made funny or ironic.
I was reading Paul Krugman’s analysis this morning in the NY Times.
This isn’t one of those cases where people try to do what they said they would, but fall short in the execution. This is an act of deliberate betrayal: Everything about Trumpcare is specifically designed to do exactly the opposite of what Trump, Paul Ryan and other Republicans said it would.
Later Krugman writes:
There is a powerful faction within the G.O.P. for whom cutting taxes on the rich is more or less the only thing that matters.
And on a more subjective note, don’t you get the impression that Donald Trump gets some positive pleasure out of taking people who make the mistake of trusting him for a ride?
As for why they think they can get away with it: Well, isn’t recent history on their side? The general shape of what the G.O.P. would do to health care, for the white working class in particular, has long been obvious, yet many people who were sure to lose, bigly, voted Trump anyway.
Why shouldn’t Republicans believe they can convince those same voters that the terrible things that will happen if Trumpcare becomes law are somehow liberals’ fault?
And for that matter, how confident are you that mainstream media will resist the temptation of both-sides-ism, the urge to produce “balanced” reporting that blurs the awful reality of what Trumpcare will do if enacted?
In any case, let’s be clear: What just happened on health care shouldn’t be treated as just another case of cynical political deal making. This was a Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength moment. And it may be the shape of things to come.
What struck me about what Krugman says about Trumpcare is that exactly could be written about Illinois pension reform if you replace G.O.P. with Democrats and replace health care with pensions.
We wrote basically this column over and over again four years ago when Illinois Democrats passed pension theft.
Both Trumpcare and pension reform are attacks on the lives of working and poor people and it is a bi-partisan thing by whatever the party is in power – Repugs now in D.C. and Dems when Pat Quinn rented the Governor’s mansion.
In writing the decision that ruled the Democrat’s pension theft unconstitutional, the justices of the Illinois Supreme Court wrote:
The General Assembly may not legislate on a subject withdrawn from its authority by the constitution and it cannot rely on police powers to overcome this limitation.
As we have already explained, there simply is no police power to disregard the express provisions of the constitution.
It could not be otherwise, for if police powers could be invoked to nullify express constitutional rights and protections whenever the legislature (or other branches of government) felt that economic or other exigencies warranted, it is not merely pension benefits of public employees that would be in jeopardy. No rights or property would be safe from the State. Today it is nullification of the right to retirement benefits. Tomorrow it could be renunciation of the duty to repay State obligations.
Eventually, investment capital could be seized. Under the State’s reasoning, the only limit on the police power would be the scope of the emergency. The legislature could do whatever it felt it needed to do under the circumstances. And more than that, through its funding decisions, it could create the very emergency conditions used to justify its suspension of the rights conferred and protected by the constitution. If financial markets were rational, this prospect would not buoy our economy, it would ruin it.
In the days before the Illinois legislature voted to steal our pensions I and my fellow teachers and retirees met with many, mostly Democratic state representatives, to present our case against pension theft.
In many cases they had not read the bill. We met with a number who had not seen the bill nearly 12 hours before voting on it. Many had no idea about the consequences, intended and unintended.
Many knew it would not pass constitutional muster.
It was ruled unconstitutional almost exactly two years ago.
The threat of pension theft was and remains a terrible fear for many active and especially retired public employees.
The fear of poverty in their old age has taken a physical toll on the elderly.
When we argued that pension theft and health care are moral – not just a political or a legal obligation – the current leadership of the two Parties cannot claim moral superiority.