Investigative reporter Gary Cohen recently appeared on radio station KPFK’s David Feldman Show to discuss the strange liaison between the Pew Charitable Trusts and the libertarian Laura and John Arnold Foundation. Cohn had written a piece for Frying Pan News linking the respected research organization with the public-pension-cutting agenda of John Arnold, a billionaire hedge-funder. Cohn also broke a story about a proposed state ballot initiative that would change California’s constitution in favor of gutting the retirement plans of state and municipal employees.
Listen here to a segment of Feldman’s show for a quick rundown of the Pew-Arnold alliance and what’s behind the move to cut funding for public pensions.
When Kentucky’s legislature adopted a bill intended to transform the Bluegrass State’s troubled pension system last spring, state officials were ecstatic. Signing the bill into law on April 4, Democratic governor Steve Beshear hailed it as groundbreaking legislation that would “solve the most pressing financial problem facing our state – our monstrous unfunded pension liability and the financial instability of our pension fund.”
Not everyone was convinced.
Critics, who include pension-fund experts, lawmakers and AARP Kentucky, claim the new law will hurt workers, taxpayers and retirees. What’s more, they say the law was largely crafted behind the scenes by an unusual alliance between two out-of-state organizations: the Pew Center on the States and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. Some detractors go further and assert that the Arnold Foundation is using Pew’s sterling reputation for academic integrity as a fig leaf to hide its own free-market agenda.