Posts Tagged ‘lowenstein’

Faith in the Detroit Farce

The New York Times feels that the issue is ‘good faith’ in the just-concluded trial to see if Detroit can use bankruptcy rules to slash public pensions with union lawyers arguing that a “cloak of secrecy” surrounds the governor’s bankruptcy strategy making it almost impossible to negotiate on pensions. “You don’t know how or what is going to be cut,” Sharon Levine, representing AFSCME, said. “How could you make a counterproposal without the very basic, simple facts?”

Which is exactly why this trial has been a farce and the only issue to be decided is how much those who were never promised any Detroit tax money (bankruptcy lawyers, managers, consultants. et. alia) will siphon from those who were (bondholders and public employees).   But one thing has become clear – the reason.

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NO to ERISA for Public Plans

Roger Lowenstein, the author and financial journalist who has been in front on so many important issues including the public pension crisis, has an article in this weekend’s WSJ titled ‘The Long, Sorry Tale of Pension Promises‘ which ends with:

“if you want governments to come clean, go after their drug of choice—credit…..Before we get more Detroits, or more Studebakers, the federal government should enact an Erisa (with teeth) for public employers. More simply, it could announce that local governments that fail to make timely and adequate contributions to their pension plans would lose the right to sell bonds on a tax-free basis. That would get their attention.”

I thought so too, once, but with Mr. Lowenstein’s imprimatur making it more likely and upon reflection I now see two problems with an ERISA for public plans.

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