WASHINGTON — Less than two weeks after unveiling an ambitious pension reform package, senior Bush administration officials are hinting at concessions they're willing to give employers to make the stringent proposals palatable.
Employer groups have begun drafting their own revisions they'd like to see in the reform package, and are already expressing doubts that negotiations over the package will result in a compromise this year. A more reasonable goal, they say, would be an extension of the temporary law, which expires at the end of 2005, that allows employers to link the value of their pension liabilities to corporate bonds, giving more time to debate the administration's proposals.
It's going to be "tough sledding" to get reform enacted this year, said Brian H. Graff, executive director of the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries, an Arlington, Va.-based trade group.
"It's not going to fly in its current form, so the question is whether we can come up with something … less than the administration's (package) but more than current law."
James M. Delaplane Jr., partner in the Washington law firm Davis & Harman LLP, concurred: "It's a radical reform, and radical reform tends to be difficult to move in a short time period."