Congressman John Lewis Speaks Up on Pensions

As pension reform dominates state and local news, from Wisconsin to Atlanta, and all over the country, Congressman Lewis speaks up for working people.  Read the entire text here, but here are a few excepts from his opening statement at the oversight hearing on state and local pensions:

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week 2011. Today, Republicans have set their sights on the teachers who educate our children, police officers who keep our communities safe, and first responders in moments of crisis. They paint teachers, firefighters, librarians, and nurses as villains in their quest to widen the gap between the rich and the poor. Our neighbors are not the villains. They are not the cause of the current economic situation. They are simply hard-working Americans trying to retire with dignity and escape poverty as they age. 
 
The Republicans have made many arguments to support today’s attack. 
 
The Republicans blame pension plans for state budget shortfalls. This is not true. States spend less than four percent (4%) of their budgets on pension contributions.
The Republicans claim that pension benefits are too high. This is not true. The average state pension benefit is modest, about $20,000/year.
The Republicans claim a Federal bailout may be needed. This is not true. The losses in the plans are related to the market and the recent recession.

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