AP's Bauer, Obsessed With 'Polarizing' Law, Actually Understates the Pension Hit Wis. Public Employees Are Taking

Gosh, I would have thought that someone in Wisconsin's or America's labor movement would have caught Scott Bauer's clear June 15 understatement of the net pay hit many unionized public sector workers in the Badger State will be taking as a result of 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, commonly known as the "Budget Repair Bill," once the law's provisions become effective on July 1. That error is in the following sentence from Bauer's report ("New lawsuit filed against Wisconsin union law"):

The law also requires workers to pay 12 percent of their health insurance costs and 5.8 percent of their pension costs, which amount to an 8 percent pay cut on average.

The AP reporter apparently spent time which should have gone towards getting the facts right to ensuring, as he did in a June 14 story (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), that the law was described as "polarizing" as often as possible. Bauer's frequent use of the P-word also seemingly distracted union supporters who read or heard portions of Bauer's report from noticing the error I will explain shortly.

As shown below, Scott's magic word was found in his write-up and in two of his audio teases:

APpolarizingRefs061511

Geez, Scott, we get your blatantly biased point.

Bauer's reporting error is in stating that public sector employees will now pay "5.8 percent of their pension costs." What's really the case is that they will now pay "5.8% of their gross pay" into the State of Wisconsin Retirement System.

That's a big difference. As Bauer presented it, assuming for the moment that employer pension costs average the 18% of pay noted here (see Page 2 of the linked document), that would only be 0.87% of gross pay (.058 x .15), roughly 5% of gross pay less than actual (5.8% minus 0.87% is 4.93%).

While we're at it, Bauer description of Wisconsin Act 10's impact in the quote above as "an 8% pay cut on average" is also incorrect. It's not a pay cut at all, as no one's salary is going to change as a direct result of the law. Act 10's provisions will cause "an 8% reduction in net pay" (compared to gross pay), which is nowhere near the same thing.

Scott Bauer should spend a bit more time working on accuracy and precision and a bit less time inserting "polarizing" words into his reports.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.