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Bombshell: Plutocrats Brazenly Collude to Hurt State Economies and Screw Working People

Illinois fatcats discuss plan to sabotage state bond ratings in scheme to destroy pensions.
 
 
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These days, many Americans walk around feeling like no matter how hard they work, how much they manage to save or how carefully they plan for the future, the game is rigged against them. They suspect that behind closed doors, CEOs and Wall Street honchos are eagerly scheming to rip them off.

Their worst fears of corruption and collusion just came true in Illinois, where corporate titans were caught red-handed in the act of Rigging the Game.

Let’s step inside a recent gathering of the corporate-backed Union League Club of Chicago, where former Illinois Attorney General Ty Fahner, who now leads a band of plutocrats known as the “Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago,” recently launched into an hour-long diatribe on the evils of state pensions.

Fahner, a top GOP fundraiser, can’t abide the notion that teachers, firefighters, nurses and other public workers in the state of Illinois can still expect a decent retirement. Not a luxurious retirement, mind you — the average pension is $32,000 a year, and most state employees will not receive Social Security. But even a modest retirement for hard-working people is too much for today’s fatcats.

Fahner is part of a virulent strain of public raiders and economic crackpots who have become dominant in the Republican Party (and increasingly among the Democrats, too) who are hell-bent on destroying unions and attacking public employees. Ultimately they wish to privatize everything and reduce their tax responsibilities down to nothing.

That’s why Fahner has declared war on pensions and is promoting a pension crisis in order to justify it . He has called for cost of living cuts, raising the retirement age, capping pension earnings and shifting the cost of the pension obligation of teachers to local school districts , many of which are too poor ever to pay . He styles himself as a savior who wants only to protect the public from debt, when in reality he is a brutal plutocrat who will stop at nothing to line his pockets at public expense and reduce his and his friends' taxes.

Illinois has real problems. However, Fahner desperately hopes the public will not catch on to the fact that states are having difficulty paying out pensions because of the lack of revenue caused by a Wall Street-driven financial crisis and the deep recession it set off, regressive taxes, and the myriad bond scams financiers have already inflicted on states, cities, towns, and municipalities which have triggered funding crises for pensions and other programs. (See " How Wall Street Fraudsters Plunder Public Finances, And 5 Ways to Fight Back.")

Fahner has tried a number of dirty tricks to attack pensions in his career. But his most recent admission is absolutely breathtaking in its brazenness: He boasted of working to scam the Illinois bond rating.

During Fahner’s talk to the Union League Club, an unidentified person in the audience suggested that pressuring credit agencies to rig the state bond ratings in order to attack pensions might be a jolly good idea. Fahner gleefully replied that he had already thought about that — and his group has tried it.

Audience member: “Maybe sometimes you gotta be irresponsible to be responsible. If a political solution really doesn’t produce a favorable outcome, maybe you really need a market solution. And a market solution, I don’t mean bankruptcy, I mean actually talking down the state rating even further so the state’s bonds essentially become below investment grade. And it drives up the borrowing cost to the state and all of us to a significant level enough that you really feel the public pressure…”