Opinion: Give public workers a 401(k) alternative to pensions

California’s public employee pension system, designed in the last century, is woefully in need of an update. The current plan rests on promises made to employees for their retirement that cannot be fulfilled with the money that the state has so far set aside.

Taxpayers are already on the hook for tens of billions of dollars for these unfunded liabilities, with the potential that the entire system could collapse if future investment earnings don’t match projections. The state’s scramble to close that gap with ever-bigger payments to the retirement fund is crowding out funding for education, health care, public safety and other crucial services.

But there is another, hidden problem with the current system. It represents a transfer of wealth from younger, shorter-term employees to older workers who spend their entire careers working for the state. And in an age when millennials increasingly plan to work for more than one employer during their career, that’s an inequity that we should fix.

I have introduced legislation, Senate Bill 1149, that tackles both these problems with a modest proposal that would be good for the state, for employees and for the taxpayers.

My bill would offer a 401(k)-style retirement plan as an option for new state employees. This plan would be funded with contributions from the employee and the state. It would be controlled by the employee and fully portable, so that workers who leave before reaching retirement could re-invest the money elsewhere to keep building their nest egg until they reach retirement age.

Virtually every public employee union in the state is opposed to SB 1149, which faces its first hearing Monday in the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee.

But this opposition is misguided. My bill would actually be better than the current system for a majority of younger, newly hired employees these unions will represent.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Politics

      

Letter: President Donald Trump efforts with North Korea may yield something good

Trump’s N. Korea efforts
may yield something good

Even a blind squirrel will occasionally find an acorn. That about sums up my expectation for Mr. Trump’s North Korean efforts.

Do I hope for some great break through? Of course I do. It is well past time for us to actually sign a peace treaty and non-aggression pact with the North. I think it was a far better situation during the Carter and Clinton administrations when a thaw between the two powers, trade links and people-to-people contacts improved. Then the Reagan and Bush administrations scuttled them.

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Regime-change efforts and the continued war games played out just below the border need to end. Also the South needs to have complete sovereignty over their own armed forces and their own policies, unlike the present and bizarre situation where the United States is still the head of Korean armed forces (bet you didn’t know that did you?).

So who knows? Something good may happen.

Mike Caggiano
San Mateo

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Source:: The Mercury News – Politics

      

Editorial: Feinstein’s experience, clout make her best U.S. Senate pick

The decision of whether it’s time for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein to take a bow and be replaced by someone younger and more progressive in the U.S. Senate boils down to one, simple question: Who will be the most effective caretaker of California’s interests for the next six years?

Feinstein stands head and shoulders above her progressive challenger, former state Senate President Kevin de León, in that regard. Seniority matters in the Senate. Her leadership and clout are essential to protect California against President Trump’s attacks. And if Democrats regain control of Congress in November, her experience, centrist politics and willingness to listen and compromise would help the Senate actually get something done.

Feinstein has come under sharp criticism for urging voters to have “patience” with Trump, but Californians should take that as a tactical position, rather than any indication of support for the president’s positions. Her strategy is to try to outmaneuver him, rather than merely rail against him.

Feinstein, at 84, is as sharp as ever and hasn’t lost her passion for her work. We have been critical of her positions on important water and privacy issues. But she has delivered for California on key transportation projects and played an important role in fighting off Trump’s efforts to kill the Affordable Care Act.

She is the go-to Democrat in the Senate on gun control, for which she has been a fierce advocate for the past four decades. It is hard to imagine any gun control legislation passing the Senate in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., shootings without her ability to round up some Republicans support.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Politics

      

Sessions warns White House: Firing Rosenstein could prompt his departure, too

By Sari Horwitz, Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey and Matt Zapotosky | Washington Post

WASHINGTON – Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently told the White House he might have to leave his job if President Donald Trump fired his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the exchange.

Sessions made his position known in a phone call to White House counsel Donald McGahn last weekend, as Trump’s fury at Rosenstein peaked after the deputy attorney general approved the FBI’s raid April 9 on the president’s personal attorney Michael Cohen.

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Sessions’s message to the White House, which has not previously been reported, underscores the political firestorm that Trump would invite should he attempt to remove the deputy attorney general. While Trump also has railed against Sessions at times, the protest resignation of an attorney general – which would be likely to incite other departures within the administration – would create a moment of profound crisis for the White House.

In the phone call with McGahn, Sessions wanted details of a meeting Trump and Rosenstein held at the White House on April 12, according to a person with knowledge of the call. Sessions expressed relief to learn that their meeting was largely cordial. Sessions said he would have had to consider leaving as the attorney general had Trump ousted Rosenstein, this person said.

Another person familiar with the exchange said Sessions did not intend to threaten the White House but rather wanted to convey the untenable position that Rosenstein’s firing would put him in.

A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment.

Rosenstein’s status remains uncertain, but the pressure he is facing seemed …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics

      

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