N. Dakota paper: Raimondo should be Time Person of the YearDecember 15th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site
Rhode Islanders aren’t the only ones enamored with Gina Raimondo.
One of North Dakota’s largest newspapers says Time magazine made a mistake by naming “The Protester” as its Person of the Year – and argued its editors should have chosen Rhode Island’s treasurer instead.
“Her brand of leadership is exactly what the U.S. needs,” the Grand Forks Herald declared in an editorial Tuesday. The paper’s Tom Dennis wrote that Raimondo’s approach to tackling public-sector compensation is better than those of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, two Tea Party Republicans:
[T]hanks to Democrat Raimondo’s leadership (and the support of Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent), Democrats in the Rhode Island General Assembly joined Republicans in supporting the reforms. …
The courts may yet weigh in on the reforms, and Rhode Island’s public-sector unions hope very much that they do. But that’s the unions’ last, best hope; because clearly, a recall isn’t in the cards.
Raimondo’s status as a Democrat helped carry the day. Democratic lawmakers and voters alike proved more willing to trust “one of their own,” and they gave her the benefit of the doubt.
Raimondo was, of course, the subject of a glowing Time profile earlier this month. The Grand Forks Herald is just the latest media outlet to succumb to Raimondomania, following on the heels of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and KOGO-AM in California. At this rate, she’ll be president before we know it.
Dennis goes on to link Raimondo’s efforts on the pension issue with the new Medicare overhaul proposed by Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan and Democratic U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden. But Josh Barro argued in National Review on Thursday that Ryan and Wyden actually missed the most important lesson from Rhode Island’s experience:
[The bill] saves no money this decade and almost no money in the next decade. I understand the political impulse–it avoids impacting anybody now, so maybe Ryan and Wyden won’t get beaten up for taking away Granny’s benefits. But this delay is still a serious mistake–reforms should be effective immediately, and for current participants as well as new ones. …
Indeed, “save money now” is the key lesson I draw from pension reform fights in states around the country. …
Rhode Island just enacted the country’s most aggressive pension reform law, with big changes to the benefits that current workers will earn in future years and even reductions in the value of pensions currently being drawn by retirees. It sounds painful, and it is. But the law is popular – a Brown University poll out today finds 61 percent support. Public support for the law stems from the fact that it saves real money, avoiding the need for sharp tax increases and creating room in the budget to spend more on public services. Structured and sold correctly, these sorts of reforms do not have to be political poison.
The United States needs Medicare reform for the same reason Rhode Island needed pension reform – without adjustments, Medicare will eat the budget and make the rest of government dysfunctional. Fixing that problem should be a winning proposition, but you can’t fix it if reform is always something that has to happen “later.” Wyden and Ryan have hit upon a good structure, but they should seize the moment and urge its implementation today, not in 2022.
(photo: Echo Media)