Providence Mayor Angel Taveras’s landmark deal reducing the value of police and fire retirees’ pensions is winning support from a surprising source: the bomb-throwing liberal TV host Bill Maher.
“Something had to give,” Maher wrote Thursday on his blog, noting that Rhode Island’s capital was facing bankruptcy. “So Providence – and the whole state, governed by our old pal Linc Chafee, neither greedy nor evil, nor out to destroy the middle class – are suspending cost of living increases, and capping benefits.”
Maher, who’s courted controversy as host of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” singled out retired Fire Chief Gilbert McLaughlin, alluding to a WPRI.com analysis showing he was on track to earn a tax-free pension of nearly $800,000 a year if he lived to the age of 100.
“I think we need unions,” Maher, who has taken the side of Wisconsin’s public workers in their battles with Republican Gov. Scott Walker, wrote in the post. “But when people hear about the retired fireman whose pay doubles every twelve years, you can see how they might not like it.”
Chafee appeared on Maher’s program on Oct. 9, 2009, shortly before the formal kickoff of his successful campaign for governor, and earned around $1,000 or less for doing so. Chafee appeared alongside Richard Belzer and Cornel West:
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