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Disclaimer: The author of this site maintained the campaign weblog of John Kline's opponent in the 2006 election, which made Congressman Kline a bit testy.

As with all blogs, review the facts carefully and draw your own conclusions.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Pension Reform in Reverse

Not long ago, I wrote about the pension reform bills working their way through Congress, and the fact that John Kline spoke out in favor of the House version of the bill. At the time I figured that differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill would prevent any legislation from getting passed, and that may still be the case.

However, a conference committee has been set up to iron out the differences, and John Kline is on it. The big news, though, is that it turns out my lightly-researched layman's analysis of the two bills was way off base (I thought the House bill had one serious flaw but the Senate bill was pretty solid). As it turns out, both bills would actually make the pension crisis worse:

Then the political horse-trading began, with lawmakers, companies and lobbyists, representing everything from big Wall Street firms to tiny rural electric cooperatives, weighing in on the particulars of the Bush administration's blueprint.

In the end, lawmakers modified many of the proposed rules, allowing companies more time to cover pension shortfalls, to make more forgiving estimates about how much they will owe workers in the future, and even sometimes to assume that their workers will die younger than the rest of the population.

(snip)

As a result, the bill now being completed in a House-Senate conference committee, rather than strengthening the pension system, would actually weaken it, according to a little-noticed analysis by the government's pension agency.

The agency'’s report projects that the House and Senate bills would lower corporate contributions to the already underfinanced pension system by $140 billion to $160 billion in the next three years.


How much do you want to bet that Kline and the Republican Congress will pass the bill anyway, then go out and proudly campaign on their accomplishment of "saving" America's pensions?

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