Alan Reuther, legislative director of the United Auto Workers, today asked members of the Senate Subcommittee on Retirement Security and Aging to reject the Bush administration's proposals for overhauling pension funding rules. He instead called for a bipartisan package to improve pension funding levels and shore up the PBGC without further punishing employers, workers and retirees.
The Bush administration's proposals are "dangerous and counterproductive," Mr. Reuther said. "They would punish employers who are already experiencing financial difficulties, resulting in more pension plan terminations and loss of retirement benefits, more bankruptcies, plant closings and layoffs, more liabilities being dumped on the PBGC, and more employers choosing to exit the defined benefit pension system."
Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said in a statement before the hearing that Congress must ensure that the PBGC has all the resources it needs "without driving responsible employers out of the defined benefit system." While the PBGC needs help, Mr. Enzi said, "We also need to determine whether the reforms proposed will make the defined benefit system better or add to its problems."
Separately, Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, today urged bipartisan support among committee members in crafting a proposal to overhaul the Social Security system. "Social Security has become a hot potato, tossed back and forth, producing motion but no progress. If this Congress is going to muster the courage and accept the responsibility to address Social Security reform this year, we should do more than kick the can down the road," he said.