Two Republican Senators have responded to the Butch Lewis Act (H.R. 397) that passed through the House in July with their own retirement proposal. I’m so glad that I haven’t been holding my breath in anticipation that the counter proposal would be supportive of the loan program that is the backbone of the BLA’s legislation and implementation. I will comment much more on the specifics of the Grassley and Alexander legislative proposal (Multiemployer Pension Recapitalization and Reform Plan) in a future post, but the comment that gets my blood flowing is the following:
“The reforms are designed in a balanced way to avoid tipping more plans into a poorer funded condition, and also to avoid exposing taxpayers to the full risks associated with the largely underfunded multiemployer system and pushing the PBGC into insolvency.”
Are the participants in these plans NOT taxpayers? Do the benefits that they receive not generate tax revenue directly and significantly more revenue through their participation in our economy? Why are we not concerned that the 1.4 million workers in Critical and Declining multiemployer plans may lose a substantial percentage of their promised benefit? Given the critical elements in the Grassley and Alexander bill there is a very good chance that a significant percentage of the 10+ million union employees in the multiemployer retirement program may witness a significant reduction in their promises, too. Lastly, did we not ask the American taxpayer to support the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) program to “rescue” the financial industry following the GFC? The TARP program that authorized the rescue of up to $700 billion. Why is this much smaller request creating all of this concern for the taxpayer now? There seems to be a double standard in play, and it stinks!