Kasim Reed and Atlanta’s fiscal crisis

This was going to be the column where I regretted not endorsing Kasim Reed last fall.

I would write about the visits that Atlanta’s new mayor has made to the AJC’s offices to talk about fixing the city’s finances, in particular the crushing unfunded pension obligations it faces. I would write that I was impressed with his new priorities and his resolve.

Reed would have gotten my vote, I would write, if he had talked this way during the campaign rather than putting first and foremost a plan to hire 750 more police officers. That was probably good electoral politics, for it no doubt matters to a great number of Atlantans.

I simply didn’t think then — and still don’t — that such a plan was feasible until the new mayor had gotten a grip on pension costs, which have come to consume about 20 percent of Atlanta’s general budget. I thought I heard Reed signaling that he now agreed.

Then came his first budget.

It includes 100 new police officers and a 3.5 percent raise for current officers, at a cost of $11 million. There’s also $4 million to open all of the city’s recreation centers in an effort to stem youth crime. Yet he projects flat revenues.

Yes, there are cuts, and no raises, for other departments. In that sense, Reed is choosing, as he says leaders must do.

But paying for this proposed budget hangs on spending some reserves, increasing a range of fees, and completing two deals: a sale of the city jail to Fulton County for savings of $16 million a year, and $13 million from selling City Hall East.

Neither deal’s final. The budget must be final June 30. That’s a lot of unhatched chickens.

The mayor speaks compellingly, and seems sincere, about finally getting Atlanta’s finances in order. Budgeting new revenue before it’s in hand is not going to reassure skeptical residents that things have changed.

But there is a more important element here.

Unfunded retirement benefits are a nearly $3 billion problem: almost $1.5 billion each for pensions and health care. Making legally required payments for pensions alone will cost the city an estimated $125 million this year.

Changing benefits for those who have already retired or left the city’s payroll is off the table, Reed says, and in any case is probably illegal.

Changing benefits for future workers and those who aren’t vested — the latter move sparks lawsuit threats from labor unions — would save $8 million to $12 million a year, Reed says.

That leaves a $100 million-a-year problem. I don’t think the city can solve it without getting workers to agree to benefit changes. They’ll surely want something in return.

Raises are one option — paying more today instead of promising to do so tomorrow. That choice at least forces elected officials to fund the decisions they make, and it doesn’t lead to problems that keep compounding over time. But why not tie raises, maybe even larger ones, to the needed pension changes?

Also problematic is that the raises are only for police, and it’s firefighters who have been most vocal so far about opposing any pension changes.

The history of compensation changes in the city, particularly the pension enhancements in 2001 and 2005, shows that what is given to one group of workers eventually is given to the others as well. That’s partly how Atlanta got in this mess.

I like much of what Kasim Reed says. I don’t want to see him get stuck before he gets started.

64 comments Add your comment

Alvin Greene for Senate in SC

June 11th, 2010
7:22 pm

Kasim gave me the $10,400 to file.

joan1

June 11th, 2010
7:42 pm

I say cut those pension benefits. Most of us don’t even have any at all. Let the unions scream about it. So what? I think the majority of people are fed up with paying people to live long and prosperous lives after they have worked in a soft government job for 20 years or can retire at 55. Most of us over 65′rs are still working, and being required to go back to work to make ends meet. You won’t find a lot of sympathy for unions, except from its members.

Road Scholar

June 11th, 2010
9:26 pm

So Joan1 and Kyle: when do you plan to run for office to implement your strategies?

Port O'John

June 11th, 2010
10:27 pm

Yeah Joan, those cops and fireman sure don’t deserve any pensions.

What have they ever done for anybody? Why should they get a pension? We already give the cops kevlar and the fireman helmets. I agree with the right-wing and libertarians on this one. Cut the government workers. Bunch of whining slackers.

Until your house is on fire….

joan1

June 11th, 2010
10:42 pm

Those cops and firemen haven’t contributed any more to the economy or the public at large than a typical shop owner, so there is no reason they should get a pension. When my house was broken into, it took 45 minutes for the DeKalb cop to get here. I had my own gun, so didn’t really care. When he came I was afraid to let him “case” the place. When he insisted, he expressed a desire for one of my pieces of furniture “that his daughter would love”. I figured it would be gone by now. Let those government workers save for retirement, just like I do. They make a lot more money on average–look it up if you don’t believe me.

Consumer Research FTW

June 11th, 2010
11:28 pm

Kyle – Man up and release my comment on your last topic. There isn’t a single offensive comment in it, just the opinion of someone more educated than you on a topic you really don’t understand.

Willie

June 12th, 2010
12:13 am

I’m the guy who broke into Joan’s house. The air in that place was a stench of rotting garbage and cat sh#t. No one should be allowed to have 35 cats in one house, smelled worse than a Hog farm. No firefighter would ever enter that place to save anyone because they would be overcome with stentch.

Bill

June 12th, 2010
12:22 am

Kyle, you talk and talk but really have nothing to say. How DID you get your job? Or were you appointed like so many in Georgia? Don’t tell me, your dad was either a big whig at some paper or knew someone who was…Your drivel, as usual, is more meaningless right wing propaganda to make any democrat look bad. Your and your column should be driven off from the AJC and filled with more advertisements for high ankled boots to protect us from the ankle deep BS you shovel.

Stephanie Ramage put a clown suit on the AJC

June 12th, 2010
2:09 am

The Sunday Paper once again put a clown suit on the AJC when it came to the charade Lisa Borders orchestrated to make sure the Turner was the pick.

Local weekly with the fraction of the resources puts a clown suit on the AJC. Of course Kyle’s the new guy. Can’t afford to rock the boat to even comment on this.

A CONSERVATIVE

June 12th, 2010
7:04 am

A DEMOCRAT can not run anything….but his/her mouth….THAT IS OBAMAs one talent….not leadership

Will

June 12th, 2010
7:23 am

I believe Mayor Reed is off to a very promising start.

I based this on several things: He supportive role as a partner, not an adversary, of the General Assembly. His hard line stance relating to “Freaknik”, his extraordinary visibility in the business community and mid-town neighborhoods.

As a businessman and a fiscal conservative, I share some of your concerns about his budget but even his budget reflects an unusual politician: a delivery of promises for more and better compensated policemen and the re-opening of neighborhood pools.

In a city that is politically dark blue in a sea of blood red, Mayor Reed has started his tenure about as well as any conservative could hope for.

Wingfield Interpreter

June 12th, 2010
7:52 am

Yeah..we don’t need any more police officers (at least in MY community) – heh Heh! Let em all rob and kill each other, I don’t care.

D@mn those Rec centers. We don’t need no rec centers (at least in MY community) Heh heh! All the kids are on vacation or summer exchanges in Europe right now..or just hanging out at their buddy’s Sandy Springs estate for the weekend. They have a pool in their back “rec area” the size of one of those “rec centers”! ;O) Heh Heh..

Jack

June 12th, 2010
8:36 am

I’m with Joan1.

booger

June 12th, 2010
10:22 am

I think Reed needs to focus on filling key personnel positions. He’s already narrowed the field for Police chief down to the three best black candidates in the country. Now he needs to find the best black CFO in the country and the best black airport manager in the country. This will free him to attack issues like the pension fund.

Morrus

June 12th, 2010
10:40 am

Curiously, in a supposed anti-incumbent year, most of the departing are not retiring but seeking higher office. We may recycle more than we replace. The bad news is that a frustrating 114 seats still have but one contestant. Two of them aren’t even incumbents, meaning they will affect state policy without being vetted by voters. And I have to think that we’d be better off if many had run instead for the Legislature — and cut down on the number running unopposed. Georgia’s problems are numerous. They aren’t going away. There’s too much stale thinking at the Capitol, on both sides of the aisle. New voices would be welcome.

atlmom

June 12th, 2010
11:24 am

Oh, yeah, crime is WAY up in the city. Reed’s doing SUCH a fantastic job. Great. Why has crime risen SO MUCH in the last few months? I mean, astronomically. Don’t blame the economy – it wasn’t like this two years ago as the economy started to tank. So, why is there so much more graffiti, so many more armed robberies, so many more breakins? Hmmm.

miles

June 12th, 2010
11:26 am

@ A CONSETVATIVE

Obama has already proven he’s better than BUSH…remember 9/11 when BIN LADEN murdered 3000 Americans while DUBYA GUMP was hiding out with 3rd graders…and y’all conservatives say he kept America SAFE…yeah right

miles

June 12th, 2010
11:29 am

i spelled “conservative” wrong…

Left Nut Density

June 12th, 2010
11:58 am

Reduction means elimination. Pragmatism means absolutism. Typical shallow, meaningless arguments relying on nothing but to-the-extreme analogies.

Reduce a pension and it’s “what if your house catches on fire since there will be no more firemen”.

How about what if you’re on fire and I refuse to pizz on you cause you aint worth the salt.

Effin left nut do gooders are so damm dim. Luckily the country is waking up.

Dave

June 12th, 2010
12:04 pm

Bill – you need a “chill pill” fast, in fact take two. Why do you “hate” so much? Did this column hit close to home, or do you get this upset about everything. Get help.

Willie

June 12th, 2010
12:36 pm

I agree that Reed is off to a promising start. All of our public officials are going have to learn to operate in an environment of declining revenue, figuring out how to do more with less. Conservative or liberal, both are facing the process of deleveraging. Refusing to make the hard choices only makes the future choices much harder.

Downtowner

June 12th, 2010
12:36 pm

Here’s Morrus again at 10:40 a.m., with his cut-and-paste, irrelevant entry that he sticks into every AJC blog he can.

AJC: Can’t you filter him out?!

James

June 12th, 2010
12:39 pm

Stephanie Ramage? You’ve got to be kidding. She has her strengths but any time facts aren’t on her side, she just puts quote marks around the word perception. Apparently “perception” is a magic spell that refutes all facts. Until the Sunday Paper and Creative Loafing stop throwing away facts that don’t fit in with the narrative they’re pushing, they can’t be taken seriously. Which is too bad because they have lots of potential. They just need to learn to report what they find even if it disagrees with the conclusion they had in mind. They can still get 90% of the story they want but have to admit that the last 10% doesn’t fit. We as a society spend so much time trying to push the view of the left or the right that we forget about pushing what it really important: THE TRUTH! We can’t afford to continue to only see that which fits in with our existing views and ignoring or hand waving away that which does not. We shouldn’t divide the world up into lefties and right wingers but rather in groups of the trustworthy and the liars.

As far as Kyle goes, he is still learning how to spin. A decade from now, he’ll be such an old pro at bearing false witness that even he’ll believe his falsehoods. Too bad come judgment day, the Lord, our God, will see straight through him.

Raymond Huffman

June 12th, 2010
12:52 pm

Man! another article stating that those who made a decision to work in the public sector for secure retirement and health benefits over the opportunity for unlimited income in the private sector need to adjust their benefits because the unions “ripped off” the employers. What happened to all this “personal responsibility, free choice” libertarian talk?

Yesterday, Joe Mysak opined via Bloomberg “state and, sometimes, local governments — didn’t put away enough, or haven’t invested wisely enough, to pay for them .” This is a disingenuous statement with inadequate facts. Furthermore, Mysak stated “companies were forcibly weaned off such defined-benefit programs to 401(k) plans.” Like your article here, the implication is that private citizens don’t have enough money to pay for their end of the bargain made when public employees chose to be public employees. It seems the right-wing now wants to socialize contract law, but only for public sector and union negotiated retirement plans.

Unionized state and local govt pension plans (and private, unionized employees, for that matter) purchase the exact same stocks, bonds, and mutual funds that private companies do. The unions bargained for “defined benefits” while the private sector rolled out “defined contributions” (actually, voluntary income reduction). Public employees entered a contract stating essentially, when economic times get difficult, their retirement income and insurance will be secure. Makes perfect sense considering that market forces put companies out of business, but people will always have to pay taxes. Public employees expected the private sector to be able to support their reasonable lifestyles. While the private sector is failing, you want to blame unions for daring negotiate worker benefits?

Private sector, 401k-free-marketeers have been the loudest whiners about social security. Now you all are complaining about having to fund the retirements of your public stewards. If the stock market didn’t tank with the risk of never returning, or perhaps if you hadn’t elected politicians that enabled corporations to replace pension plans with 401k schemes, maybe there wouldn’t be this problem.

But don’t blame unions, who the unions recruited, or penalize those who chose to be public employees. Corporations could offer the same pension plans that the public sector offers, but it would be a far higher expense. Plus, corporations were happy to shift retirement expenses and the risk from the company to the worker. Nobody forced them to do anything. People happily complied. The 401k, personal-responsibility set-up has put billions into CEO and HCE pockets, leaving the public to bail out their workers with Social Security when (note tense) their 401k’s become worthless.

Right-wing voters would be better served going after corporations for their politician’s budget shortages. For example, all combined union assets are worth about $6 billion. BP made $17 billion in profits just last year. The last place to save tax money should be retirement pensions. Let the corporations, who reap a vast majority of the government’s services, pay for the shortcomings of their business decisions for once.

Bottom line, after 30 years, private workers did not get as good a deal as public sector workers in wages or retirement. I’m still not certain why a different outcome was expected when the same economic policies from the 1920s were revamped by right-wing politicians starting in 1980. Maybe all the massive, personal bankruptcies will scar it into your collective memories this time.

Stephanie Ramage put a clown suit on the AJC

June 12th, 2010
1:13 pm

Ramage may not be pefect, but then again you don’t have to be anywhere near perfect to put a clown suit on the AJC

-The lie Borders put out that there was no agenda at the first meeting; did you read that in the AJC?

-The fact the search panel had three candidates ranked in order, but Borders did an end run and submitted five names not in order, so that Turner’s name would be submitted to Reed; did you find that in the AJC?

-The fact that Ramage endorsed Reed, but still didn’t sugar coat the above. Ramage isn’t perfect, but like Grace Jones might have said, she’s perfect enough to put a clown suit on the AJC

Now Kyle has to walk around with the clown suit on, because there’s no way he’s acknowledge the AJC had circles run around it on this story

Morrus code

June 12th, 2010
1:16 pm

Maybe the 10:40 post that repeats itself all over the AJC is a secret code to Eat Mor Chikin

Kiljoy

June 12th, 2010
2:09 pm

Bankruptcy! It worked for GM and it’ll work for ATL.

MiltonMan

June 12th, 2010
2:27 pm

I am pretty soon the morons that run the city of Atlanta will try to stick it to North Fulton again. Where is Reed’s buddy Obozo. Shouldn’t he be in town throwing money around to cure all the problems.

The Nimbus 5000

June 12th, 2010
4:30 pm

‘It worked for GM and it’ll work for ATL.”

GM never filed for bankruptcy. Obamao took it over and it’s now worse.

tscali

June 12th, 2010
6:59 pm

we can cut back on police by cutting down criminals.

Michael H. Smith

June 12th, 2010
8:27 pm

Until your house is on fire….?

Ever hear of insurance!

Considering the response and results of the last two house fires in the neighborhood, the private sector insurance companies are doing the better job of protecting against asset loss. Fortunately, no one was inside at the times or the insurance companies would’ve paid for funerals.

GaLiberal

June 12th, 2010
9:59 pm

A CONSERVATIVE
June 12th, 2010
7:04 am

A DEMOCRAT can not run anything….but his/her mouth….THAT IS OBAMAs one talent….not leadership
—————————-
That’s demonstrating real leadership to spew vitriol and point fingers. Like MItt the Twitt did in USA Today. And yet you stooges believe you have all the answers for problems you don’t understand. Let me know when you run for office. I’ll vote for you just so I can spew vitriol and point fingers about the lousy job you’re doing.

BADA BING

June 12th, 2010
10:20 pm

Daddy, did you kick someone’s ass yet?

No More Progressives!

June 13th, 2010
7:40 am

miles

June 12th, 2010
11:26 am
@ A CONSETVATIVE

Obama has already proven he’s better than BUSH…remember 9/11 when BIN LADEN murdered 3000 Americans while DUBYA GUMP was hiding out with 3rd graders…and y’all conservatives say he kept America SAFE…yeah right

Middle school spelling class is your 4th period on Monday, at 1100. Please attend.

Michael H. Smith

June 13th, 2010
9:13 am

I hope Kyle reads the latest blog from comrade Cynthia:

With unemployment still hovering around ten percent and economic anxieties fueling the “wrong track” sentiment in opinion polls, you’d think President Obama would be burning through his remaining political capital to get a major jobs bill through Congress.

Instead, Democrats have been captured by the newest conventional wisdom: voters are anxious about the deficit. So, instead of a strong push to save teachers, firefighters and police officers who are losing their jobs to state and local budget cuts, the White House seems to be settling for a minor jobs bill that won’t amount to a bucket of water in a forbidding desert of joblessness.

It’s no great surprise that Republicans — whose only economic strategy involves tax cuts — have lined up against the use of additional federal spending to counteract a staggering economic downturn. It’s less clear how the Democrats were taken hostage by an idea that not only defies basic Keynesian economics but also disregards the current political winds: Tea partiers notwithstanding, most Americans aren’t preoccupied with the federal deficit.

Therein you have the contrast between socialists liberal philosophy and capitalists conservative philosophy, Kyle.

Growing the government verses growing the economy.

According to comrade Cynthia, economic anxieties are fueling the “wrong track” sentiment in opinion polls.

Doubts About Obama’s Economic Policies Rise

http://people-press.org/report/620/

The wrong track thinking is on the part of Obama and the socialists liberals. Government was never meant to create jobs and heaven forbid unsustainable pensions, according to the commerce section in the articles of the Constitution.

Government and government jobs cannot sustain an economy or even itself, let alone grow an economy capable of reproducing jobs in a continuum.

To comrade Cynthia’s chagrin, it takes millions of short order cooks, maids, factory workers, farmers, construction hands, even coal miners, oil flied workers and the likes thereof to make the payroll of her wonderful GUB’MENT teachers, police officers and firemen. One look at Greece puts this immutable fact into perspective.

Private sector job creation (which seldom promise more than they can deliver in the way of pay and benefits) is where the focus should be.

Peter Haskett

June 13th, 2010
10:29 am

But Michael, why should gub’ment involve itself in private sector job creation? That’s the private sector’s job. Why is it failing so?

Michael H. Smith

June 13th, 2010
10:38 am

Peter Haskett, go read the commerce section of the articles in the U.S. Constitution. It most definitely is the obligatory duty of you GUB’MENT to involve itself in private sector job creation.

The private sector is not failing, it is our government that has failed the private sector, again, again and uh… AGAIN!

Don’t forget, Teddy is watching.

BTW, I’m not a “Classical Liberal”, liberals.

Peter Haskett

June 13th, 2010
10:47 am

Michael, please tell me the section and article, or the name of the clause of the Constitution that says what you have boldfaced above. BTW, there is no “commerce section” of the Constitution.

Michael H. Smith

June 13th, 2010
10:48 am

For the lazy and all liberals (Socialist and Classical) desiring to exit adherence to the Constitution.

U.S. Constitution Article One

Section 8.

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/article01/

Happy reading.

Michael H. Smith

June 13th, 2010
10:52 am

Oops… In boldface for Peter Haskett:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

The Congress is responsible for the general welfare of the United States.

Michael H. Smith

June 13th, 2010
10:58 am

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

This one is for the “Classical Liberals” (Libertarians), so much for your so-called “FREE MARKET” BS. The capitalist economy in this country is REGULATED.

Peter Haskett

June 13th, 2010
11:28 am

According to Michael H. Smith, to regulate = to create jobs. According to everybody else, regulate = trying to keep corporations from breaking the law. Libertarians are against the Constitution. “Free market” is a right-wing mantra that Republicans support until they need a bailout for their corporate enablers. Read this article for a classic example. Kyle suggests that the private sector seek the cut of previously negotiated retirement benefits for it’s regulators.

There is nothing about job creation in the Constitution. Thanks for cutting and pasting the commerce clause and proving yourself wrong.

Michael H. Smith

June 13th, 2010
11:45 am

That’s not even a good try Peter Haskett.

When the private sector economy is properly regulated, the laws will protect job creation. “Free market” is not a conservative mantra. It belongs to Classical Liberals, Libertarians. There are many closet Libertarians in the Republican Party. Protecting and promoting the general welfare of the United States has everything to do with the private sector economy and jobs being created within the private sector. No amount of semantically word play will change the contextual meaning.

Thanks for nothing but more liberal hogwash in proving not only your wrong ideology but as well your lack of political knowledge and misunderstanding of the Constitution.

Michael H. Smith

June 13th, 2010
11:55 am

Free Market

A free market is a market without economic intervention and regulation by government except to enforce ownership (”property rights”) and contracts. It is the opposite of a controlled market, where the government regulates how the means of production, goods, and services are used, priced, or distributed. This is the contemporary use of the term “free market” by economists and in popular culture; the term has had other uses historically. A free-market economy is an economy where all markets within it are unregulated by any parties other than those players in the market. This requires protection of existing property rights, but no coercive regulation, no coercive subsidization, no coercive government-imposed monopolistic monetary system, and no coercive governmental monopolies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_market

Michael H. Smith

June 13th, 2010
12:04 pm

Conservatism (Latin: conservare, “to preserve”) Conservatives adhere to the Constitution. They are not anti-regulation or anti-government involvement in the market, as both regulation and government involvement in commerce clearly exist in the Constitution. It is the liberals of the left, Socialist and Classical that wish to move beyond what is written in the Constitution.

Peter Haskett

June 13th, 2010
12:33 pm

But Michael, “protecting and promoting” are not words in the Constitution. “Promote the general welfare” is in the preamble, but the preamble applies to We the People, not the Executive, Judicial, or Legislative branches of the Federal Government.

What laws protect job creation? Describe an example of “when a market is properly regulated.” In my opinion, proper regulation would include upholding contracts (an “existing property right”) that “protect property interests.” But based on this article, by an avowed free-marketeer/libertarian/fiscal-conservative/Republican, when such contracts are costly to tax-payers, they should be breached? I don’t understand why so-called conservatives and libertarians want our retirees to lower their standards of living.

“Free Market” is nowhere in the Constitution. Perhaps you should look into what Jefferson called “the tyranny of labels.”

miles

June 13th, 2010
12:51 pm

@ No More Progressives

sorry i misspelled “conservative”, but its obvious you agree with what i typed, in that BUSH .

miles

June 13th, 2010
12:54 pm

@NO MORE PROGRESSIVES

YEAH I MISSPELLED “CONSERVATIVES”, ITS CALLED A TYPO…but i’m not wrong in that BUSH is by far the worse president ever. He let OSAMA make a total fool of him and 3000 AMERICANS paid for his incompetence..I know you god fearing conservatives hate the truth….lol

Michael H. Smith

June 13th, 2010
5:27 pm

Peter, “provide” for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States?

Play word games all day long if you like the meaning is the contextual same provide, promote, protect, assist, foster along with many other words could all fit the language; and every part of the Constitution applies especially to the Government. You are dead wrong.

What laws protect job creation?

Cutting through the chase: The SEC failed to regulate Wall Street, Libertarian Greenspan said trust the banks, along with pushing for deregulation of derivatives was Robert Rubin and Larry Summers (Obama chief economic adviser ) which gave us AIG. Had enough, or shall we go further into the insane so-called Free Trade and Immigration policies of Clinton and Bush, now Obama that has royally screwed this economy out of jobs and the creation of jobs as never before?

Keep it real for a change will you Peter?

Michael H. Smith

June 13th, 2010
5:41 pm

One other thing Peter, learn to read. I have said REPEATEDLY that there is no such thing as a FREE MARKET in this country.

See this comment posted earlier:

Michael H. Smith

June 13th, 2010
10:58 am

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

This one is for the “Classical Liberals” (Libertarians), so much for your so-called “FREE MARKET” BS. The capitalist economy in this country is REGULATED.

And, Peter, you and your fellow GUB’MENT workers are no better than any other U.S. Citizen who has lost pay and benefits, least of all to mention a retirement. Grow up and get use to it like the rest of us have that know the world doesn’t owe anyone – including GUB’MENT workers – a damn thing!