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Bruce Rauner never held public office until he ran for Governor of Illinois as a Republican against Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn. Who is Bruce Rauner?
Ken Previti has a word for him: Sociopath. This is his word, not mine. Rauner cuts autism programs to pay for high-priced hires, like the new “education czar,” who will make a quarter million a year. Rauner loves charters. He even has one named for him. Previti quotes a conversation I had with Rauner in front of about a dozen people a few years back. I asked him if it bothered him that charters like his enroll small proportions of students with disabilities or ELLs. He said it didn’t bother him at all. He said that charters were for students who were highly motivated and eager to work hard. When I asked what he thought we should do about those other children, the ones rejected by charters, he said he didn’t care, it was not his problem. I would say Bruce Rauner is heartless. I would say he is indifferent to those he considers less worthy than himself.
Rauner is an equity investor. He made a lot of money managing pension funds for public employees. Forbes says he is worth nearly a billion dollars. That means he is very, very rich. Now that pension funds made him super-rich, he wants to get rid of them. Edward Siedle, who writes about pensions for Forbes, writes:
With an estimated personal net worth of nearly a billion and a stable of high-end residences, managing state workers’ retirement savings for decades– shielded from public scrutiny– has worked out very nicely for private equity titan Bruce Rauner.
You’d think he’d be thanking his lucky stars that public pensions have contributed generously to his lifetime of opportunity.
You’d be wrong.
Today Rauner is using some of the millions he garnered from workers savings to fund a run for governor of Illinois. As the Republican Gubernatorial Candidate he wants to “reform” state pensions and force public workers into the same poorly-designed 401(k)-style plans that have utterly failed to provide retirement security for private sector employees.
After having paid his firm, GTCR, and Wall Street billions in private equity asset-based and incentive fees, Rauner believes Illinois public pensions can’t afford the lavish $2,500 in average monthly benefits promised to workers.
Personally, I have never understood why someone who is “nearly a billionaire” (or in the case of former Enron trader John Arnold, is a multi-billionaire) wants to take away the pensions of working people who barely scrape by. I don’t get their motivation. It baffles me.