Thingish Things

The New York Democrats’ Big 2011 Mistake

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Jun• 22•11

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New York Republicans have been handed a rhetorical gift for the 2012 elections.

With so many issues presumably off the table by close of session in Albany this week — rent regulations, property tax cap, gay marriage (we’ll see), state vegetable — one big Kahuna is left over for next year’s election-year fight: public employee pension reform. Leaving pension reform to 2012 virtually guarantees that a fiscal issue will again be at the forefront of the public debate in an election year.  That’s always good for Republicans.

Governor Cuomo floated a half-measure in this area a couple of weeks back, but it was quickly killed by the unions, AKA the Assembly leadership. So the issue remains, large and looming: the state must check  pension costs or they will eat future discretionary spending alive – or spur massive tax increases. A small step forward this year would have released some steam on the issue, but instead, with a worsening economy, pension costs soon will be coming to a rapid boil.

On one side of this fight will be the resolute, union-led Working Families Party (WFP) (which has been remarkably silent since Andrew Cuomo entered office), and on the other, the taxpayers and those who dare speak out on their behalf.

Democrats running with WFP support will be prohibited — verboten — from supporting significant pension reforms, leaving Republicans with any political sense free rhetorical reign to hammer away from now until November 2012.

All those little things New Yorkers have come to expect from their government — senior centers, beaches, after school programs, cheese museums — will be in jeopardy if pensions costs aren’t restrained. It is irrefutable arithmetic, and Republicans have 17 months to show voters the math. The alternative to those cuts will be massive tax increases, which the WFP has historically trumpeted — just what beleaguered taxpayers are in the mood for…

I can’t believe the Democrats didn’t get this behind them this year.



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