Here's Jeff Jacoby in today's Boston Globe:
For years the political class has taken care of its own at taxpayers' expense. That is why so many former public employees enjoy retirement perks far more lucrative than anything typically found in the private sector. "The nation is dividing into two classes of workers: those who have government benefits and those who don't," USA Today noted in 2007. "The gap is accelerating in every way - pensions, medical benefits, retirement ages."The practice of double-dipping and the MBTA's "23 and out" has been known by Beacon Hill for years, but there's never been enough political heat to boil over. Now that the economy is soured, Bay State politicians are discovering it's difficult to ask for more taxes when they fail to do the very job they've been elected to perform.
All of that was galling enough when the economy was strong and the Dow was flying high. Now - in the midst of deep recession, with the market prostrate, millions out of work, and retirement portfolios worth far less than they used to be - it is infuriating. Beacon Hill's worthies can feel the growing backlash, which is why they declare so solemnly that pension reform is a "priority."
If character is "what you do when nobody's watching" then political character must be making difficult choices before your hand is forced.