WASHINGTON — Corporate America is waging a take-no-prisoners-style lobbying campaign to avert a Treasury Department proposal that could require many of the nation's top companies to report higher pension liabilities and shovel more money into their pension plans.
The Treasury Department, which has informally discussed its views with lawmakers, is expected to present a formal legislative proposal to Capitol Hill by early July.
Organizations representing employers have enlisted chief executive officers of some of the nation's largest corporations to lobby Treasury Secretary John Snow and the White House directly. They also will present their case to key lawmakers on Capitol Hill, many of whom are openly sympathetic toward them.
By lining up legislators on their side, corporate executives hope the Bush administration will back off its proposal, rather than risk the embarrassment of receiving a cool reaction on Capitol Hill.
The high-stakes fight between employers and the Bush administration is over a permanent replacement for the 30-year Treasury bond as the benchmark for calculating pension fund contributions, lump-sum payments and variable insurance premiums for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.
"Plan sponsors may have to roll Treasury on this," said Brian H. Graff, executive director of the American Society of Pension Actuaries, Arlington, Va., who is lobbying against the Treasury Department's position. "Once the Treasury side comes out, it's going to throw a wrench in the entire process."