- Ted Cox
- Don’t call it a cut.
This week there’s been a lot of talk about Mayor Emanuel’s pension plan, which hit the papers on Tuesday and by Wednesday morning was being fast-tracked through the Illinois Assembly before being stalled—for now—by bipartisan opposition. The plan would hit home owners with a property tax hike and increase the amount city workers are required to contribute toward their pension plans. Possibly unkindest of all, retirees would get smaller cost-of-living increases, which under the new plan would be half the inflation rate or 3 percent, whichever is less.
I’m no finance whiz, but it’s not hard to figure out what that means—not until Emanuel starts explaining it, anyway. On the face of it, his plan would violate a provision in the state constitution that says state benefits “shall not be diminished or impaired.” But not really, to hear him tell it.
“Nobody’s benefit gets cut,” he told the media Tuesday. “It continues to grow. It just doesn’t grow at the pace that it once did. . . . If you compare it to the old thing, you’d say it grows less fast. But, it actually continues to grow,” the mayor said.
Yeah, it grows—at half the rate of inflation or less. It’s a magical noncut that shrinks what you have while still growing!
It gets even better. “I’ll tell you what a cut looks like,” the mayor continued. “Not getting a retirement check. That’s a cut. This guarantees you have a pension. Guaranteeing you have a pension versus one that actually disappears. That’s a cut.”
So the noncut is not a cut because, while it cuts what you do get, a cut isn’t really a cut unless it’s a complete cutoff.
Has he been studying the Richard M. Daley Guide to Mayoral Malapropisms or what?