WASHINGTON — Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, blasted both employers and union groups for their "predictable howling" in response to the Bush administration's pension reform proposal, which he called "tough medicine." It is critical that Congress enact a set of "permanent pension funding rules this year, with emphasis on critical," he said. He spoke March 1 at the start of the Senate tax-writing committee's first hearing on the state of the private pension system.
The ERISA Industry Committee criticized the administration's proposal in written comments provided to the committee, saying it ignores the fact some plans become underfunded during economic downturns, which "is normal, and poses no risk to the PBGC. By designing rules that essentially require plans to be 100% funded at all times, the administration has set a bar that is neither rational, nor needed in the real world," according to the ERISA comments.