The Empire Center, known for its anti-public employee agenda, attempted another hit job today on pensions.
But, upon close reading, it backfires.
Even allowing for loaded questions trying to push teachers into an answer, it’s clear that teachers reject the dismantling of fair pensions through a proposed Tier 6.
While the Empire Center surely was hoping that teachers would oppose their union, the exact opposite happened. By a whopping 80-5 percent, teachers said they supported NYSUT, for which we give you a humble thank you in return. Again demonstrating that teachers are caring, dedicated professionals, the poll showed class size and budget cuts – not their own pocketbooks — are teachers’ main concerns. These aren’t, of course, the talking points the Empire Center is pushing.
The Empire Center was left to lead its press release with an item saying respondents would support giving future teachers the choice between choosing a 401-k style retirement plan or the traditional defined benefit plan except that — oops! — only 18 percent said they were “very familiar” with how those plans work. You can get just about anyone, when pressed, to allow that “options” are a good thing, but what matters is how they respond when they know the facts. The fact is that a 401(k) option would destabilize the current system and jeopardize retirement for the next generation. The Tier 6 proposal is a massive 40 percent cut at a time when public workers have already sacrificed with cost-savings in the pension system.
And a key fact that the Empire Center and its Wall Street supporters failed to note in the poll was that, if Gov. Cuomo’s 401(k) pension proposal makes it into law, Wall Street would pocket billions of dollars in new management fees, while workers would likely be left with insufficient funds to live a dignified retirement. To that point, Business Week released a survey earlier this week that showed 60 percent of American workers have less than $25,000 in their 401(k) accounts.
– Deb Ward contributed to this post