This Is Not A New Problem

Congress has an uncanny talent for taking a bad situation and making it worse. Before they left for August recess, they did just that.

The Daily Signal posted an article yesterday headlined, “Congress Poised to Give Unions a Massive Bailout.”

The article reports:

A new report from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. shows that the private union pension crisis is only getting worse, and now Congress is poised to make it worse still.

Not only are many multiemployer pension plans rapidly approaching insolvency, but the situation is so bad that even the pension safety net—the PBGC’s Multiemployer Program—will be bankrupt in just six years, leaving pensioners with mere pennies on the dollar in promised benefits.

Unfortunately, the House of Representatives passed a bill just before leaving for August recess that will make the situation even worse. Not only would the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act (H.R. 397), exacerbate the problem, it would put taxpayers on the hook for potentially $638 billion or more in broken pension promises.

This is the summary of the bill posted at Congress.gov:

Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act of 2019

This bill establishes the Pension Rehabilitation Administration within the Department of the Treasury and a related trust fund to make loans to certain multiemployer defined benefit pension plans.

To receive a loan, a plan must be (1) in critical and declining status, including any plan with respect to which a suspension of benefits has been approved; (2) in critical status, have a funded percentage of less than 40%, and have a ratio of active to inactive participants which is less than two to three; or (3) insolvent, if the plan became insolvent after December 16, 2014, and has not been terminated.

Treasury must transfer amounts, which may include proceeds from bonds and other obligations, from the general fund to the trust fund established by this bill as necessary to fund the program. The Pension Rehabilitation Administration may use the funds, without a further appropriation, to make loans, pay principal and interest on obligations, or for administrative and operating expenses.

The bill allows the sponsor of a multiemployer pension plan that is applying for a loan under this bill to also apply to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) for financial assistance if, after receiving the loan, the plan will still become (or remain) insolvent within the 30-year period beginning on the date of the loan.

The bill also appropriates to the PBGC the funds that are necessary to provide the financial assistance required by this bill.

No. In 2010, I wrote about this problem at rightwinggranny. One source of my article was Human Events, which stated:

“EPI has published and advocated what we feel would be an excellent national supplemental retirement plan, the Guaranteed Retirement Account, which was authored by Prof. Teresa Ghilarducci, Director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School for Social Research. In a nutshell, the GRA would mandate employer and employee contributions to a federally administered cash balance plan. The combined 5% of payroll contributions would be invested by a Thrift Savings Plan-like entity in the bond and stock markets, with a guaranteed minimum return of 3% beyond inflation. A $600 tax credit would cover the entire 2.5% contribution for workers earning $24,000 or less, and greatly reduce the effective contribution rate for other lower-paid workers. We calculate that at the end of a normal working life, the average worker would accumulate, along with Social Security, enough to assure a 70%replacement rate of pre-retirement income.”

The Daily Signal article concludes:

Under H.R. 397 (which is similar to the Butch Lewis Act already before the Senate), insolvent union pension plans would receive taxpayer dollars to invest in the stock market, as well as loans to cover their broken pension promises.

Risking taxpayer money in the stock market and making loans to insolvent pension plans is reckless and wrong.

And instead of fixing the underlying problems, this bailout-without-reform proposal would incentivize union pension plans to become more underfunded so they could receive taxpayer funds.

That would be particularly unfair, considering that Congress has not even addressed its inability to pay its own Social Security obligations to taxpayers.

Instead of a costly bailout-without-reform, Congress should improve the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.’s solvency, prevent plans from overpromising and underfunding pensions, and help plans minimize pension reductions across workers.

The current House of Representatives will go down in history as one of the most irresponsible governmental bodies ever elected.

Let Little Kids Be Little Kids

Human Events posted this picture of the upcoming issue of The New Yorker magazine. The implication on the cover is that Burt and Ernie are gay. What in the world is our culture doing to young children?

new yorker

Human Events quotes The New Yorker magazine in the article:

“It’s amazing to witness how attitudes on gay rights have evolved in my lifetime,” said Jack Hunter, the artist behind the cover.  “This is great for our kids, a moment we can all celebrate.”

Little children do not have to understand all that is meant by gay rights. They need time to play with their toys and their friends and enjoy being little children. This is ridiculous.

Sesame Street has already gone on the record on this matter, stating:

Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics…they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.”

Let’s just enjoy the relationship between Burt and Ernie without worrying about the details. There is such a thing as too much information!

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Fact Checking The Associated Press

"The Honorable Rick Perry (front right), ...

Image via Wikipedia

Rick Perry was in New Hampshire on Saturday. He spoke at an event at the home of Chuck Stephen co-hosted by John Stephen, the former Republican gubernatorial nominee. Human Events reported on Sunday that the coverage of the event by the Associated Press left out some significant information.

This is an excerpt from the Associated Press article:

Speaking to hundreds of Granite State voters at a private reception, the Texas governor was asked whether he supported a fence along the Mexican border. “No, I don’t support a fence on the border,” he said.

“The fact is, it’s 1,200 miles from Brownsville to El Paso. Two things: How long you think it would take to build that? And then if you build a 30-foot wall from El Paso to Brownsville, the 35-foot ladder business gets real good.”

The answer produced an angry shout from at least one audience member.

Channel 7 (WHIOTV) in Ohio did a slightly better job of reporting the speech:

“No, I don’t support a fence on the border,” he said, while referring to the long border in Texas alone. “The fact is, it’s 1,200 miles from Brownsville to El Paso. Two things: How long you think it would take to build that? And then if you build a 30-foot wall from El Paso to Brownsville, the 35-foot ladder business gets real good.”

Instead, Perry said he supported “strategic fencing” and National Guard troops to prevent illegal immigration and violence from Mexican drug cartels.

The answer produced an angry shout from at least one audience member. And it exposed an ongoing rift with some conservative voters over Perry’s immigration record.

That’s a little better. However, a website called Instapundit posted a first-hand account:

A BLOG REPORT FROM RICK PERRY’S SPEECH IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: “I attended that event, stood about 15 feet from where he delivered those remarks and never heard an ‘angry shout’. Either the AP is making it up or it wasn’t much of a shout. Perhaps they can supply the audio.”

Maybe it was a reporter in the back who was doing the shouting. But after the 2004 bogus-boos incident, I encourage bloggers and others attending these events to record audio and video. You never know what’ll happen — or what people will report happened, even if it didn’t.

This election season every voter will need to be careful when gathering news and deciding on candidates. Unfortunately much of the major media is no longer objective and is reporting things that didn’t happen or not reporting important facts. There are many places on the internet (hopefully this is one of them) where a voter can go to fact check and get the whole story. Be careful what you read, and stay informed. That is the only way to preserve our freedom.



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