Long-time readers of Defined Benefit are familiar with John Arnold, the money behind many attacks on public pensions. Loyal readers have also heard about the Pew Research Center, which uses Arnold’s money to promote flawed anti-pension research, and the Retirement Security Initiative, a national special interest group led by some prominent anti-pension politicians. Today we’re going to take a look at some of the lesser known groups working to dismantle retirement security for working families.

  • State Budget Solutions is part of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is a national right-wing organization funded by corporate dark money. They are known for promoting “free market solutions” that benefit large corporations and the wealthy. They are also notorious for supporting controversial legislation like “Stand Your Ground” laws. Last year ALEC released a report on public pensions that is based upon falsehoods and inaccurate numbers. Recently they have convened a “pension reform working group” with the arch-conservative Heritage Foundation.
  • The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) is an education reform organization that is highly critical of traditional pensions for teachers. To date they have received nearly half a million dollars from John Arnold to fund their anti-pension research. Earlier this year they released a report on teacher pensions that was based on false and misleading information.
  • The Manhattan Institute is an ultra-conservative think tank where Josh McGee, John Arnold’s right-hand man, is a Senior Fellow. The Manhattan Institute has published much of McGee’s anti-pension research. They also publish City Journal, a quarterly research journal that often features anti-pension articles by McGee and others.
  • Bellwether Education Partners, like NCTQ, is an education reform organization that opposes traditional pensions for teachers. They have received over $1.5 million in grants from the Arnold Foundation. They operate a website- TeacherPensions.org- that promotes their criticisms of defined benefit pensions.

The attacks on public pensions come from many sources. As we work to protect retirement security for America’s public servants, it’s vital to know who’s producing false and misleading information about the true state of public pensions in the United States.