Quantcast

The Breakdown: Why Are Public Pensions 'Unfunded'? | The Nation

The Breakdown: Why Are Public Pensions 'Unfunded'?

It looks like you don't have Adobe Flash Player installed. Get it now.

As Republicans escalate their assault on the benefits and livelihoods of public sector workers, they continue to point to so-called "unfunded" pension programs as a symbol of broken government. But in what way exactly are these pensions "unfunded," and why has the mainstream media done such a poor job explaining how they came to be unfunded? Are all state pension programs unfunded? Whose idea was it to make them unfunded, Republicans, Democrats or state politicians generally? And finally, are there any state pension programs, unfunded or otherwise, that are not facing a fiscal crisis? In this week's episode of The Breakdown, DC Editor Christopher Hayes and economist Dean Baker discuss how public pension funds function and whether or not they're really a main factor in state budget shortfalls.

Further Reading:

Dean Baker explaining Public Pensions 101.
Dean Baker on the origins and severity of the public pension crisis [PDF].
David Cay Johnston talks about why reporting in Wisconsin on public pensions has been so bad.

Subscribe to The Breakdown on iTunes to listen to fresh takes on the confusing concepts that make politics, economics and government tick. A new episode every week!

  • Share
  • Decrease text size Increase text size