“Shared Sacrifice,” Republican Style
While public employees and teachers face this increase [in pension contribution percentage from 7.65 to 9.65], as well as a raise in the retirement age, a freeze on cost-of-living adjustments for current retirees and a 2 percent cap on future cost of living increases, [Governor Paul] LePage’s personal contribution rate to the retirement system will remain the same, which means he’ll be paying $21,420 over four years.
If LePage faced the same increase as state employees, it would cost him $5,880 over his term.
Unlike teachers and state employees, however, the size of the governor’s pension doesn’t depend on how long he pays into the system. As soon as he leaves office, he’ll begin receiving a three-eighths of his salary, which works out to $26,600 annually.
It is difficult, then, to take LePage seriously when he says, “I know some teachers and retirees are struggling, but we need honest and shared solutions to solve our pension problem,” as he did last week, or when his spokesperson talked about “shared sacrifices” as they announced the budget.
LePage’s budget shows the same lack of fairness on a larger scale as well. Last week, LePage’s commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, Sawin Millett, explained that the money raised from these payment increases on teachers and public employees isn’t targeted to shore up the state’s pension system, but will instead pay for other budget priorities, including $203 million in tax cuts.
I don’t want to hear one more wealthy politician, pundit, Koch fiend, or Peterson goon talk about “shared sacrifice” ever again unless they can tell me what it is that they’re sacrificing. Are the top 1% who own more than a third of the wealth proposing anything that will lighten their own wallets? Reduce their own health care? Eliminate their own jobs? Beggar their own retirements? Are they volunteering to cut back on anything that ordinary people would consider a necessity? No, the only meaningful cuts they suggest for themselves are to their taxes.
“Shared sacrifice” is shared like “clean coal” is clean. It’s just plain sacrifice, and we’re the goat.