Like father, like son, you could say.
Ann Laine Combs was deputy assistant secretary of Labor under President George Bush. Now his son, George W. Bush, has nominated her for the top pension regulator's job as assistant secretary of Labor.
Ms. Combs is vice president and chief counsel for pensions and retirement at the American Council of Life Insurers. She will begin working in the Labor Department's Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration as a consultant April 3.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has not decided whether it will hold a formal confirmation hearing for her, according to a spokesman.
Pension lobbyists applauded the nomination and anticipate it could boost support for a package of pension legislation that did not get enacted in the last session of Congress and since has been introduced once again in the House.
"She is an outstanding choice, a good policy analyst, and she has direct experience" with the Labor Department's pension office, said Mark J. Ugoretz, president of the ERISA Industry Committee, a Washington-based trade group. "She understands the importance of balancing the needs of employers and plan participants, and I think she will tread a very careful path in moving regulations," Mr. Ugoretz said.
Brian H. Graff, executive director of the American Society of Pension Actuaries in Arlington, Va., concurred.
"She is a major contributor to the efforts to simplify pension rules and encourage the formation of new pension plans and expand coverage," he said. Ms Combs also backs legislation that would make it easier for employers and outside consultants to give plan participants advice on how to invest their retirement dollars, he noted.
But Ms. Combs is arriving at the Labor Department when the shift to 401(k) plans is being tested for the first time by a market dive that could jeopardize the retirement of millions of Americans. And that could determine what tack the pension regulator will take.