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.

Elected Officials Are Supposed To Represent The People Who Voted For Them

The Democrats have always been able to count of the labor unions to support their candidates. However, in recent years, Democrat policies have worked against people who belong to labor unions. Illegal immigration depresses the wages of American workers. Bad trade agreements send jobs overseas. Both of these problems are things that President Trump is trying to fix, but the Democrats in the House of Representatives are generally a road block to dealing with either problem.

Breitbart posted an article on Friday about some recent comments by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

The article reports:

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka blasted Democrats during a private meeting this week for their globalist free trade agenda where 2020 Democrat presidential primary candidates have continued to embrace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

During a private meeting with Democrat National Committee (DNC) members, including Chairman Tom Perez who pushed TPP while working for President Obama, Trumka blamed a coalition of elected Republicans and Democrats for the country’s entering into a multitude of free trade agreements that have gutted America’s working and middle class while outsourcing those jobs to China, the Phillippines, Vietnam, and India.

“It’s time to do better,’ Trumka said, scolding Democrat Party leaders, according to the Huffington Post. “I believe you can. I believe you will. And working people are hungry for it. But you can’t offer campaign rhetoric or count on workers’ votes simply because you have a ‘D’ next to your name.”

The article continues:

“You need to prove that this party is the one and only party for working people,” Trumka said, according to the Huffington Post. “And recognize that unions and collective bargaining are the single best way to make this economy work for everyone.”

Trump has sought to protect and create American working and middle-class jobs by imposing tariffs on China and other foreign imports. Likewise, during his first year in office, he ended the Obama effort to enter TPP — which would have eliminated millions more U.S. jobs by allowing multinational corporations to outsource them directly to Vietnam and Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Biden has continued to defend NAFTA, which he claimed in 1993 would add American jobs to the American economy but actually helped eliminate nearly five million U.S. manufacturing jobs and resulted in the closure of nearly 50,000 U.S. manufacturing facilities. A number of American towns and small cities were left economically destroyed and have yet to recover.

I would call this a shot across the bow. Unions provide major money to Democrat political campaigns, even when their members don’t vote for Democrats. If the Democrat party continues in its current direction, the labor union leaders may be less enthusiastic about promoting and funding Democrat candidates.

Somehow They Don’t Seem Overly Concerned

Optics do matter in politics. However, some of our politicians are so accustomed to the media covering up their antics that they don’t even worry about the optics anymore. This was obvious last weekend when thirty Democrats headed out for a fun weekend in Puerto Rico despite the continuing government shutdown.

On Friday The Washington Examiner posted an article about the weekend trip.

The article reports:

Some 30 Democratic lawmakers left the government shutdown behind Friday on a chartered flight to Puerto Rico for a winter retreat with 109 lobbyists and corporate executives during which they planned to see the hit Broadway show “Hamilton” and attend three parties including one with the show’s cast.

Those attending the Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD PAC winter retreat in San Juan planned to meet with key officials to discuss the cleanup after Hurricane Maria at a roundtable Saturday.

But the weekend is packed with free time for the members and their families on the trip.

“We are excited for you to join us for CHC BOLD PAC’s 2019 Winter Retreat in San Juan, Puerto Rico! Each year, this retreat serves as a way for our CHC BOLD PAC Members and friends in the D.C. community to come together to escape the cold and discuss our shared priorities for a stronger and more prosperous country,” said a memo on the trip.

Some 109 lobbyists and corporate executives are named in the memo, a rate of 3.6 lobbyists for every member. They include those from several big K Street firms, R.J. Reynolds, Facebook, Comcast, Amazon, PhRMA, Microsoft, Intel, Verizon, and unions like the National Education Association.

What chance does the average American citizen have in getting the ear of his Congressman when lobbying groups can do this sort of thing?

The press release regarding the event is predictable–it blames President Trump for the shutdown and explains that the event was scheduled months before the shutdown. President Trump is at least partially responsible for the shutdown, but another aspect of the shutdown is the refusal of Representative Pelosi to negotiate. Having thirty of your Democrat Congressmen running off to Puerto Rico to party when the government is shut down does not make good political optics. I wonder if the American people will notice.

Should Your Family Caregiver Have To Join A Union?

Many families face the challenge of having to take care of elderly parents or disabled children. In certain states these family members are classified as public employees and required to have union dues taken out of the Medicaid funds that help pay for this care. If we are not careful, mom is going to be classified as a public employee so that unions can collect dues from her!

The Independent Journal Review  (IJR) posted an article today stating the following:

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) will introduce a bill by the end of February “that would prohibit states from allowing unions to automatically deduct dues and fees from Medicaid funds that are intended to help family caregivers,” according to McMorris Rodgers’ aides.

The bill, which according to aides has at least some support in the Senate, will clearly state that withdrawing labor organization dues from a Medicaid payment to a family caregiver is an “improper use of Medicaid funds.”

A civil monetary penalty will be handed out for any violations of the proposed bill, according to the chairwoman’s office. “Due-skimming is robbing our nation’s most vulnerable who need Medicaid the most,” an aide told IJR.

The article concludes:

Caregivers took to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, calling on Congress to stop states — including California, Minnesota and Illinois — from classifying family caregivers as public employees. House GOP officials say ending the practice could save Medicaid and other programs as much as $200 million a year.

“What bothers me the most is, I know a lot of parents, because I’m in this community,” said Miranda Thorpe, a registered nurse who also cares for her 21-year-old daughter, according to Fox News.

“And none of them really understand that this is happening to them. They have no idea. I don’t think the state should be the factor that colludes with unions to take out this money without people’s knowledge,” Thorpe added.

“If they really wanted people to have a choice, then they should let them know what their options are. … I think it’s very unfair since this is a very vulnerable population.”

I don’t have a problem with unions, but they have become as corrupt as politicians (and sometimes the two work together very closely). Union dues should be collected from people who choose to join a union. Union fat cats live as well as the corporate fat cats they condemn (at least the corporate fat cats generally produce either a product or a service). It is time for the practice of penalizing family members who provide care for a family member to end.

 

Under The Radar At The National Labor Relations Board

President Obama stacked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with pro-union people early in his administration. The lone Republican‘s term ended December 16th. At this time there are three Democrats remaining on the board, two were appointed by ‘recess’ appointments which were made while Congress was in session.

Breitbart.com  reported yesterday on some of the NLRB’s recent actions.

The article reports:

The NLRB now allows that unions no longer are required to provide proof, through audits of their finances, to so-called “Beck objectors” that their money is not spent on union politics.

In addition to saving unions from mandatory financial audits, the NLRB also decided that lobbying expenses are now “chargeable to [Beck] objectors, to the extent that they are germane to collective bargaining, contract administration, or grievance adjustment.”

These new rules mean that workers who are forced to join unions and pay union dues have less control than ever over how their money is spent by union leaders. Labor bosses can now spend those funds on just about any lobbying expense whatsoever and never have to justify it.

The NLRB also declared that a corporation is required to collect union dues during the time between contracts between the corporation and the union. In other words, if the union is on strike against the corporation, the corporation will collect union dues for them. Wow.

This is ultimately about money. The unions are the major fund source for democrat politicians. Union membership has been dropping over recent years. If the unions lose their power, the Democrat party loses a large percentage of its campaign funds.Enhanced by Zemanta