DACA, North Korea, and Public Pension Crises

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images News / Getty Images

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images News / Getty Images

Unfunded pension obligations have risen to $1.9 trillion from $292 billion since 2007. Today we talk about public pension systems, partisanship, and problem-solving. In the Pearls, we discuss reports that President Trump will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program ("DACA") and North Korea's hydrogen bomb test. In the Heels, we talk about Sarah's upcoming trip to Washington, D.C. and Beth's life decisions. 

We had the honor of talking with Branden Harvey for his inspiring podcast, Sounds Good, while we were in Nashville. Check out our conversation on nuance and empathy. We also hope that you'll consider supporting Pantsuit Politics. We're so close to our goal and can't wait to celebrate with a mini-series on living in a more nuanced way. 

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The Pearls

This weekend, reports surfaced that President Trump will end DACA, which President Obama enacted via executive order in June 2012. DACA provides a renewable period of deferred deportation and eligibility for work visas to individuals who meet certain eligibility requirements, including that they entered the United States prior to their sixteenth birthdays and pose no threat to national security or public safety. DACA funds itself through application fees, and a 2016 study found that it has had a positive employment impact for the eligible population. Nevertheless, the President is reported to be living up to his campaign promise to end DACA in six months. We discuss this decision, particularly given the impact it will have on people already suffering from Hurricane Harvey. 

North Korea tested a powerful hydrogen bomb on Sunday--its eighteenth missile test since President Trump took office. Through Secretary Mattis and Ambassador Haley, the administration is talking tough. The President himself tweeted a seemingly empty threat about ending trade with all countries doing business with North Korea. 

To compliment the other side, Sarah compliments Senator Ted Cruz and Vice President Pence for their efforts in Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Beth compliments the Democratic governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards.

The Suit

Kentucky is suffering from a crisis around its public pensions, and our Governor, Matt Bevin, has indicated that he's determined to solve this problem. We talk about the crisis in Kentucky and similar situations across the country. We also briefly discuss the history of public pensions in the United States and the questions raised about the nature of work, retirement, partisanship, and problem-solving. Legislatures quietly borrowing from pensions over time, the 2008 financial crisis, and the failure to adequately contribute annually to pensions have all contributed to massive unfunded liabilities. Solving this problem in Kentucky and elsewhere will require multiple constituencies coming to the table, painful cuts, and new revenue. 

The Heels

Sarah is heading to Washington D.C. with the Paducah City Commissioners. Beth is making some life changes.