The Plot Against Pensions: The Pew–Arnold campaign to undermine America’s retirement security – and leave taxpayers with the bill

Source: David Sirota, Institute for America’s Future, September 2013

From the press release:
The Institute for America’s Future released a new report authored by David Sirota (The Plot Against Pensions: The Pew–Arnold campaign to undermine America’s retirement security – and leave taxpayers with the bill) that examines how former Enron executive John Arnold is partnering with Pew Charitable Trusts’ Public Sector Retirement Project to fund an effort to undermine retirement security and slash public pension benefits.

The report reveals how the Pew-Arnold partnership has distorted the conversation about public pensions and created a movement to convert traditional public pensions into riskier and costlier schemes.

The report exposes how:
– Conservative activists are manufacturing the perception of a public pension crisis in order to both slash modest retiree benefits and preserve expensive corporate subsidies and tax breaks.
– The amount states and cities spend on corporate subsidies and so-called tax expenditures is far more than the pension shortfalls they face. Yet, conservative activists and lawmakers are citing the pension shortfalls and not the subsidies as the cause of budget squeezes. They are then claiming that cutting retiree benefits is the solution rather than simply rolling back the more expensive tax breaks and subsidies.
– The pension “reforms” being pushed by conservative activists would slash retirement income for many pensioners who are not part of the Social Security system. Additionally, the specific reforms they are pushing are often more expensive and risky for taxpayers than existing pension plans.
– The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation—the latter run by conservative political operatives and funded by an Enron billionaire—are working together in states across the country to focus the debate over pensions primarily on slashing retiree benefits rather than on raising public revenues.
– The techniques used by conservative activists to gain public support to privatize the public pensions that public workers have instead of Social Security are, if successful, likely to be used in efforts to privatize Social Security in the future….