Opponents of the Butch Lewis Act (H.R. 397) talk about this legislation as nothing more than another federal bailout that will further negatively impact the U.S. taxpayer. I say hogwash! If the taxpayer truly understood what the pension benefits actually do for not only the plan participant, but also both the local and national economies, I suspect that they would be fully supportive of having the federal government provide the low-interest loans called for in the BLA.
The following paragraph is from Michael Scott, Executive Director, NCCMP, from his December 6, 2019, letter to Senate Chairmen Grassley and Alexander.
“The Multiemployer system is an incredible economic engine for the U.S. Government and the American economy. In 2015 alone, the Multiemployer system and the job creating employers of America and labor that jointly sponsor these plans paid more than $158 billion in taxes to the U.S. Government and $82 billion to state and local governments. They also provided $41 billion in Pension income to our retirees and paid more than $203 billion in wages to our 3.8 million active workers. Combined, the pension and wage income supported 13.6 million American jobs and generated $1 trillion in GDP”!
Yes, that was $1 trillion in GDP and $41 billion in pension income – incredible! The BLA calls for less than $40 billion to be provided in loans that the actuaries from Cheiron estimate that 111 of the 114 critical and declining pension plans (the number has increased to roughly 125 plans) reviewed would be able to repay in full. It seems like the failure to provide lifelines to these struggling plans would result in a far greater loss of economic activity than anything close to the total cost of implementation. Talk about penny wise and pound-foolish! Instead of allowing the critics to label this program as just another bailout, let’s redefine the argument and suggest that the government is merely providing a rebate to the multiemployer system for their on-going significant contributions to our economy.