By Brandon Jessup
While politicians in Lansing tout the policies they claim will boost Michigan’s economy, retirement security for hardworking Michiganders has come under attack.
Governor Rick Snyder and the GOP-controlled Legislature have enacted policies that represent a direct assault on the promise a lifetime of hard work can provide for a safe and secure retirement. Under the guise of lowering the cost of doing business in our state, lawmakers in Lansing have simply shifted costs onto the backs of those who can least afford it — by taxing the hard earned savings of pensioners.
At the same time the politicians were enacting $1.8 billion tax breaks for businesses, they stuck seniors with the bill by placing new taxes on pensions to finance the corporate tax giveaways. When will they learn you cannot create jobs simply by taking from one group and giving it to another?
To make matters worse, it seems every year we hear about a new scheme to diminish the pension benefits employees have earned through decades of hard work. Emergency managers in Michigan cities seem to always look first to retirees on fixed incomes to make sacrifices. Every year there is a new scheme in the legislature to shift employees into a risky defined contribution system that put senior’s retirement security at the mercy of Wall Street.
This war on pensions must cease, as it leaves current and future retirees uncertain about how they will meet their basic needs in the future. While proponents of defined contribution plans will tell you they save money, they provide no evidence to back their claims, and never discuss the costs of making this risky change.
The truth is that retirees, who have worked for decades, are now faced with going on public assistance to meet their most basic needs. This increased demand on public assistance only can lead to increased costs for taxpayers.
But this debate is about much more than the simple dollars and cents. It’s about trust — trust that government represents all of its people, not just the special interests. Seniors rely on the promises made to them during their careers. They have planned their lives based on these promises.
A promised made must be a promise kept if we are to succeed as a state. Genuine economic recovery means economic success for all, not just a select few.
Brandon A. Jessup is a state representative candidate for district 10. He is currently the Chairman of Michigan Forward and CEO of Michigan Forward Urban Affairs Group. An advocate for progressive public policy, in 2012 Jessup helped lead the campaign to repeal Michigan’s Emergency Manager Law; which was successfully rejected by 2.3 million voters in November of that year.