rick perry

NYT: Central Falls show pitfalls of Rick Perry pension proposal

November 5th, 2011 at 2:15 pm by under Nesi's Notes

The New York Times’ Mary Williams Walsh – last seen lavishing praise on Treasurer Raimondo – today warns that Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s proposal to let governments opt out of Social Security is a risky idea:

The proposal runs counter to the recommendations made recently by a couple of high-profile, bipartisan debt reduction commissions – which called for shoring up Social Security, in part, by enrolling the nearly seven million state and local government workers who are not in the program. …

More than a quarter of state and local government workers do not currently participate in Social Security, though some now wish that they did. Some city workers in Central Falls, R.I., were never enrolled in Social Security, which saved both them and the city from the payroll tax that funds the program. The city filed for bankruptcy this summer and reduced their pensions by as much as half, to as little as $10,000 a year. Now they have no Social Security benefits to fall back on.

Walsh is quite right. In Rhode Island, roughly half of teachers and a minority of public-safety workers aren’t enrolled in Social Security, and that’s made the state’s effort to change the pension system far more complicated.

Just yesterday, the Projo reported that Raimondo is having to amend her proposed legislation to change how it affects state troopers, responding to our WPRI.com report that they do not receive Social Security, contrary to what her office had told lawmakers. And the proposed COLA freeze will be particularly hard on workers without Social Security because they won’t have any retirement income that’s indexed to inflation.

(poster: Social Security Administration)

PolitiFact Rhode Island haunts Rick Perry’s ‘Ponzi’ statement

September 15th, 2011 at 6:46 pm by under Nesi's Notes

Don’t underestimate the influence of the Projo’s PolitiFact Rhode Island operation.

When its sister PolitiFact in Texas needed to fact check Gov. Rick Perry’s 2010 statement on Fox News that “Social Security is indeed a Ponzi scheme” – apparently the newly minted presidential candidate has been using the line for a while – it cited Cynthia Needham’s Rhode Island version to help explain its conclusion:

PolitiFact Rhode Island later rated False Republican U.S. House candidate John Loughlin’s statement that “Social Security is a Ponzi scheme.” Their analysis zeroed in on the lack of an element of deceit to how the 75-year-old Social Security program takes in money and pays it out. We’d add that Social Security is accountable to Congress and the American people while a Ponzi scheme is a crime.

We rate Perry’s statement False.

This week, national PolitiFact revisited the Texas/Rhode Island rulings on “Ponzi scheme” and stuck with False – giving the Projo a cameo role in the heated back-and-forth of the GOP presidential race.

Job data suggests Carcieri might want to challenge Rick Perry

August 24th, 2011 at 6:00 am by under Nesi's Notes

The Washington Post ran a story Monday noting that the impressive job growth Texas Gov. Rick Perry is ballyhooing on the campaign trail includes a big surge in the number of public-sector workers.

“With a young and fast-growing population, a large and expanding military presence and an influx of federal stimulus money, the number of government jobs in Texas has grown at more than double the rate of private-sector employment during Perry’s tenure,” The Post reported, backing up its claim with this chart.

It shows the number of government jobs in Texas jumped 19% from December 2000 to June 2011, while private-sector jobs increased 9% and total nonfarm employment rose 11%. Government jobs nationwide increased 6% over the same period, while private-sector and total nonfarm employment both fell.

That got me wondering how Rhode Island’s experience compares with that of Texas and the United States as a whole, so I did my own version of The Post’s chart showing all the three. Here’s the result:

If axing government jobs is the key to success in a Republican primary, Donald Carcieri might want to think about tossing his hat into the ring. Rhode Island managed to cut public-sector employment by 7% from 2000 to 2011, even as its the size of its population stayed basically flat.

Of course, those government jobs were part of a broad-based collapse in employment here, although it’s worth noting Rhode Island’s public sector has been hit even harder than its private sector. Private jobs and total nonfarm employment both fell about 4% over that period.