Alabama Retirement Systems head David Bronner says Alabamians opposed to ObamaCare are ‘idiots’
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Dr. David Bronner, head of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, has had some harsh words for Alabamians critical of Obamacare. Over the years, Bronner expressed his frustration with Alabama’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ObamaCare.
“These 330,000 Alabamians don’t have adequate health care,” Bronner said. “They get their arm cut off, they get sick … what are we saying to them by refusing to take this money?”
Despite ObamaCare’s continued unpopularity, Bronner has said that those in the fourteen states that have not accepted Medicaid expansion are “idiots.” He said this despite personally acknowledging that 60 percent of Alabamians still oppose the law.
While many of Alabama’s state and local officials have been fighting tooth and nail to limit and ultimately repeal the act, the unelected RSA head believes they should just quit trying.
“Get over it. It’s the law of the country,” he said. “Back in the 1930’s social security had its critics but today it is maybe the most popular federal program we have.”
In a speech last October, he lashed out against those with a small-government preference stating, “I’ve yet to figure out why Alabamians hate the federal government…What I say to Alabamians is, you want football to be the best, why won’t you fund anything else to at least be normal?”
Dr. Bronner did not mention in either of his speeches, however, that Alabama taxpayers currently fund his organization far above what many analysts would describe as “normal.” The RSA manages the pension fund for employees of the state of Alabama, including teachers, and is supposed to create a return on investment for members.
The RSA’s investment returns are not sufficient to cover its obligations to retired state employees, leaving Alabama taxpayers to prop up the fund to the tune of almost $1 billion per year.
A state legislative committee is currently researching reforms tried by other states in an attempt to get the burgeoning costs of the pension system under control.
But efforts to stabilize the system in the long term have been met with fierce opposition by Dr. Bronner, who dismisses calls for reform as a conspiracy by billionaire conservative industrialists the Koch Brothers, the favorite boogeymen of many Democrats on the federal level.
In the midst of it all, Dr. Bronner has built for himself a lavish lifestyle that far exceeds his roughly $600,000 taxpayer-funded salary.
An avid golfer, he has used RSA funds to build golf resorts around the state, which lose roughly $20 million per year. Resort employees told Yellowhammer on condition of anonymity that Dr. Bronner is a frequent and demanding guest in the hotels’ priciest suites.
Dr. Bronner has dismissed the financial losses by saying the golf courses and resort hotels attract tourism dollars to the state that are not directly reflected in their bottom line. Critics have responded by saying that even if that is true, it is his job to get the largest return possible for state employees, not to use their pension fund as an economic development loss leader.
The golf courses’ logo also appears on two private jets that Dr. Bronner uses to travel all over the country, rather than flying commercial.
Recently, the Alabama legislature has wrestled with much-needed reforms to the state’s public pension system, and some lawmakers are considering legislation that would make the RSA a much more open and transparent entity. But for now, the RSA remains under Bronner’s tight control.