Pension funds and retirement security are featured topics in both political parties' platforms, but the focuses are different.
Republicans are taking aim at the PBGC, while Democrats continue to promote workplace retirement accounts.
The platform approved Aug. 28 by the Republican National Committee at its convention in Tampa, Fla., included party concern over “increasingly underfunded” corporate defined benefit plans. To GOP officials, that raises alarms about a possible taxpayer bailout of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. if the agency has to take over more plans. Such takeovers would add to its already record $26 billion deficit in fiscal year 2011, ended Sept. 30.
The platform calls for a presidential panel to investigate corporate DB plans that are insured by the PBGC, as a “first step toward possible corrective action.”
The wording took PBGC officials and pension fund organizations by surprise. Noting that PBGC premium increases were enacted as part of a highway funding bill signed July 6, “they might want to give them a little time to kick in before considering additional changes,” said Ted Godbout, spokesman for the ERISA Industry Committee, Washington, which represents employers on benefits issues.
PBGC officials declined to comment.