The financial condition of the 850 most underfunded pension plans is far worse than publicly available information shows, according to a review of confidential information from the PBGC, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., said today. Mr. Miller, the ranking Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said a preliminary review of corporate Form 4010 filings for 2003 and 2004, made available to members of committee this spring, shows that the "differences are dramatic. Some companies report financial conditions for the pension plan assets and liabilities in their (annual financial reports) that are hundreds of millions of dollars — and, in some cases, billions of dollars — more optimistic than the secret 4010 filings."
In a letter to committee Chairman John Boehner, R-Ohio, Mr. Miller today sought the committee's approval to release the confidential data to the public. "We should take a vote on whether or not to let the hundreds of thousands of employees who are counting on their pension nest egg see it, too," he said in the letter.
Mr. Miller also asked Mr. Boehner, who is expected to seek a committee vote this month on a legislative package that would raise PBGC insurance premiums, to discuss the impact of premium increases on plan sponsors, the PBGC and pension promises made by companies. Mr. Miller also asked Mr. Boehner to outline analysis of whether premium increases could cause employers to freeze or shut down their plans, and to discuss whether the legislation protects plan sponsors against conflicts of interest by consultants or money managers — a subject of a recent SEC inquiry and an issue the Labor Department is investigating.