The Locker Room

Gingrich defends his use of 'machine' in describing Obama's efforts

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 09:14 AM

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich uses his latest Human Events column to defend his argument that President Obama heads up a "secular-socialist machine." 

Another example of the machine in action comes from a story in the New York Times about the government employee pensions that are bankrupting cities and states across the country.

The story is as much sad as it is enraging because it shows how machine politics can corrupt everything and everyone within its reach.

The article details how government employees, including police and firefighters, are encouraged to game the pension system to achieve extraordinarily high payouts in retirement.  They do this by racking up overtime pay in their final year that the pension formula then uses as a base salary from which to determine their pension.

The article quotes a police officer who retired at age 44 earning $74,000 a year and now, three years later, draws a pension of over $100,000 a year. He claims he has done nothing wrong, that the ability to retire after 20 years with a high pension was the only reason why he joined the police force, and that he “held up [his] end of the bargain.”

There is a certain logic to this, and explains why government employee unions are going to fight so hard against the reforms we need. Indeed, it is hard to say to police and firefighters, who risk their life to protect the public, that we now have to change the terms of the contracts they signed.

However, that logic does not justify abusing the rules of the pension system to achieve higher payouts than were intended. Nor does it justify the actions of those union bosses and shortsighted, dishonest politicians who, in order to expand their political power, set up a system that encouraged corruption and promised something they knew could not be delivered. 

This sad reality, where civil servants have been corrupted into being the bane of taxpayers, is the direct result of the secular-socialist machine’s deliberate strategy to use our tax dollars to expand its power. 

The anger that police, firefighters, teachers and other government employees will no doubt feel as states around the country engage in pension reform should be directed at those who lied to them, not those trying to clean up the mess the machine politicians have left behind. 

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