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  #431  
Old 02-12-2018, 03:19 PM
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There's a wiki page for the committee now:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United..._Pension_Plans

Quote:
United States Congress Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans was established on February 9, 2018 during the 115th United States Congress under Section 30422 of H.R. 1892.

Text[edit]
SEC. 30422. ESTABLISHMENT OF JOINT SELECT COMMITTEE.


  (a) Establishment of Joint Select Committee.— There is established a joint select committee of Congress to be known as the "Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans".


  (b) Implementation.—
    (1) Goal.— The goal of the joint committee is to improve the solvency of multiemployer pension plans and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
    (2) Duties.—
      (A) In general.— The joint committee shall provide recommendations and legislative language that will significantly improve the solvency of multiemployer pension plans and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
      (B) Report, recommendations, and legislative language.—
        (i) In general.— Not later than November 30, 2018, the joint committee shall vote on—
          (I) a report that contains a detailed statement of the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the joint committee; and
          (II) proposed legislative language to carry out the recommendations described in subclause (I).
then just a bunch of boilerplate
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  #432  
Old 02-13-2018, 06:29 PM
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http://www.mydaytondailynews.com/new...Nv5IHLE5AcqPL/

Quote:

Thousands fight to restore pensions: ‘It’s like we’re invisible’
Budget bill creates panel to address pension crisis.
Spoiler:
WASHINGTON —
Butch Lewis was one year into retirement when he got a letter that may have marked the beginning of the end of his life.

The multi-employer plan that held his pension, Central States, had run into trouble, and was desperately short of money. It presented a plan to the U.S. Treasury that would slash benefits. Lewis’ were to be cut from $3,348.82 a month to $1,998.65.

Lewis, a retired truck driver from West Chester and the retired head of Teamsters Local 100, lost sleep and fretted constantly about the cuts he and his fellow Teamsters faced. The stress took a toll: On New Year’s Eve 2015, he died of a massive stroke. He was 64.

RELATED: Sherrod Brown pitches plan to restore pension fund

Now, after years of fighting, countless trips to Washington, and even more hours of stress, Lewis’ wife Rita and the other Teamsters have put their hope in 12 yet-to-be-named members of Congress who may hold the key to rescuing the 1.5 million workers and retirees at risk of losing the money they had put aside for their retirement.

“It’s not over,” said Mike Walden, a retired truck driver from Cuyahoga Falls who is president of the Teamsters’ National United Committee to Protect Pensions.

Central States’ pension program is a multi-employer pension — one that allows employers to pool resources and provide workers with retirement security. For Walden and many other Teamsters, such plans were really the only game in town when they got into the trucking business.

The plans, negotiated by unions, were administered by trustees selected by the union and employers. They were a key part of collective bargaining: Many of those in the Central States plan, offered the choice of higher salaries or better retirement, chose the latter.

And for years, the plans worked, running at a surplus. But a culmination of factors in the 2000s — two market crashes, trucking deregulation which led to the bankruptcy of many of the companies participating in Central States, and the retirement of the Baby Boom generation — changed the pension plan’s fate quickly. By 2014, it was in serious trouble. In 2015, they offered a plan that would slash retirees’ benefits, sending out letters like the one that sent Butch Lewis into a miasma of stress. The Treasury Department ultimately rejected that plan, but the pensioners are in limbo nonetheless, wondering if the money they’d planned on will disappear.

RELATED: Obama nixes pension cut for Teamsters

Central States is no anomaly: While some 10 million workers are now served by 1,400 multi-employer plans, some 150 to 200 plans, covering 1.5 million workers and retirees, could run out of money within the next 20 years, according to the Pension Rights Center.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said the longer the government waits to act, the more desperate the situation will become. He pushed a bill named after Lewis that would have provided a low-interest, 30-year-loan to troubled pensions with no cuts to benefits. But after twice trying to attach the bill to larger spending bills, he was met with fierce resistance from conservatives who called the loan program a “bailout.”

As the Senate worked toward a budget deal last week without the pension bill, Brown tried a different angle: having a select committee created that would deal with pensions. “I said if we can’t do Butch Lewis, here’s what we need. We have to have something serious and substantive to show pensioners that Congress takes this seriously.”

The committee was created as part of the massive budget bill that was signed by President Donald Trump Friday morning. Brown now hopes to become the Democratic chair of the committee.

RELATED: Budget OK’d, Congress heads for big immigration fight

The committee will include three Republicans and three Democrats from both the House and Senate — 12 members total — and will hold at least five public meetings, including one field hearing outside of Washington, D.C. aimed at making it easier for retirees to tell their stories.

The committee will have until late November to craft a plan that would be put before the House and Senate for an up-or-down vote. Neither chamber will be permitted to amend the agreement.

Walden said he would have preferred that Congress take up the Butch Lewis Act, but he’s happy to see at least some movement.

“It’s somewhat of a ‘kicking the can down the road’ again, but at least we see some resolve,” he said. “I like that they’re doing something that says they have to do something.”

Walden said he’s hopeful Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will choose Republicans from union states — such as Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio — for the panel.

For his part, Portman is hopeful the committee will “find a workable solution.”

RELATED: Retired teachers lose cost of living increase

Rita Lewis, meanwhile, wants Congress to act. She was in Washington last month for the State of the Union – a guest of Brown, invited to shine a light on the pension issue.

In the final months of her husband’s life, she’d see him sitting in his leather chair in the middle of the night, stewing over what to do about the situation he and his fellow Teamsters were in. The stress consumed him. Their last conversation on the day he died was about the pensions.

“It was always on his mind,” she said.

Rita said Congress continually puts pensioners on the back burner.

“We did everything the government asked us to do,” she said. “and here we are at this stage of our life. And it’s like we’re invisible.”
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  #433  
Old 02-14-2018, 03:26 PM
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http://www.pionline.com/article/2018...14#cci_r=73393

Quote:
Budget proposal seeks hike in multiemployer PBGC premiums

Spoiler:
Multiemployer pension funds would see their PBGC premiums increase over the next decade under a White House budget proposal released Monday.

Aimed at improving the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.'s multiemployer program's finances, the proposal would raise $16 billion over the 10-year budget window, with the agency's current $32 billion deficit wiped out by fiscal year 2020.

The PBGC premium hike was included in the budget request for the Department of Labor; the DOL's overall request represents a 21% cut from the fiscal 2017 level.

RELATED COVERAGE
Special pension committee formed in Congress to come up with multiemployer bill2 multiemployer plans reapply for benefit cutsLoan programs seen as viable answer to multiemployer woesPBGC single-employer, multiemployer deficits moving in opposite directions
The budget repeats last year's White House proposal to get further federal savings from reforming federal employee retirement benefits, including changing the retirement benefit calculation to five years from the current three years of highest salary; reducing or eliminating cost-of-living adjustments, beginning in fiscal year 2019; and having employees contribute more, starting with 1% of pay in fiscal year 2020. Currently workers hired before 2012 contribute 0.8% of pay, and others contribute up to 4.4%.

New twists in this budget are calls for increasing federal employee pension contributions to 50% of cost, and funding a study to explore moving to a defined contribution retirement plan for future federal employees or letting current workers get out of the existing defined benefit system.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, which is funded by fees and therefore budget neutral, released its own budget request Monday for fiscal year 2019 that would allow it to backfill critical positions and focus on priorities including cybersecurity and a new chief risk officer function. Retail investors would benefit from 41 restored positions in SEC enforcement and exam divisions, the SEC said in its budget request.


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  #434  
Old Yesterday, 03:16 PM
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BAILOUT

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/02/1...ww.google.com/
Quote:
1.5 Million Retirees Await Congressional Fix for a Pension Time Bomb

Spoiler:
WASHINGTON — The sprawling agreement to boost government spending reached by Republicans and Democrats this month quietly included a step toward defusing what could be a financial time bomb for 1.5 million retirees and hundreds of companies in the industrial Midwest and the South.

The deal creates a select congressional committee to craft what could effectively be a federal rescue of as many as 200 so-called “multiemployer” pension plans — in which employers and labor unions band together to provide retirement benefits to employees.

Many of these plans are hurtling toward insolvency in the coming decade, with benefits owed to retirees projected to swamp what the plans can afford to pay. The 16-member, bipartisan committee will have to come up with a solution and legislation by the end of November, which the full Senate would need to vote on by the end of the year.

Select congressional committees have long struggled to produce results, like one during the Barack Obama administration meant to reduce the growth of the national debt. This committee’s work will be complicated by disagreements over whether companies, retirees or taxpayers should bear the brunt of the cost for shoring up pension plans that would otherwise run out of money.

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“A solution that works is going to be challenging for all parties, and that’s going to make it hard to get political buy-in,” said Aliya Wong, the executive director of retirement policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has pushed Congress to solve the multiemployer pension problem. “The biggest issue is, where do you get the money from? Every source seems to be tapped out.”

Pension plans across the nation are facing shortfalls, with both corporate plans and those for public employees like teachers and firefighters owing more to retirees than the investment funds can possibly pay. But the looming collapse of the multiemployer pension system is significant given the sheer number of people affected and the potential for a devastating economic ripple effect: retirees losing the pension checks that keep them afloat and a potential wave of bankruptcies among the companies that once employed those workers.

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The situation has been brewing since the 2008 financial crisis, as investments plummeted, leaving many plans in the red. The slow economic recovery and recent stock market rally have not been sufficient to reinvigorate the plans, which are jointly funded by labor unions and employers whose workers participate in them.

According to Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research, the nation’s 1,400 multiemployer plans are facing a $553 billion “hole” of unfunded liabilities, meaning they don’t have sufficient assets to cover what they owe workers. About a fourth of these plans are in the so-called “red zone,” where insolvency is more imminent, potentially within the next 10 to 20 years. Most of the participants in these plans work in the transportation, services and manufacturing industries. Their employers, many of which have been trying to withdraw from the plans, include companies like United Parcel Service and Kroger.

U.P.S. said in 2016 that it could be responsible for nearly $4 billion in benefits payments if the Central States Pension Fund, the largest multiemployer plan facing insolvency, slashes benefits to retirees or becomes insolvent. In the past year, U.P.S., which participates in more than two dozen pension plans, has been working with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to help develop pension legislation. It has also offered its own proposals.

“We want the system stabilized and fixed in the long term because we’re in so many plans and we have a lot of employees in the plans,” said Chris Langan, vice president of finance at U.P.S. “It’s something that is not wise to wait on.”

Now, Congress must decide whether to rescue these funds with low-cost loans, force them to cut benefit payments or let the funds go bankrupt and wipe out retirees’ entire pensions.

Ms. Wong and other advocates of congressional action say they are optimistic that the committee can achieve rare bipartisan success. Members of Congress across the aisle, they say, are coming to grips with the cost of doing nothing.

“This committee forces Congress to get serious,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, a longtime champion of unions who represents many retirees covered by the pension plans, and who fought for the committee’s creation in the spending bill. “It forces us to come together and work out differences.”

Image
A United Parcel Service driver. U.P.S. has said that it could be responsible for nearly $4 billion in benefits payments if the Central States Pension Fund slashes benefits to retirees or becomes insolvent.CreditMark Lennihan/Associated Press
The strain on the multiemployer pension system carries another risk — the potential annihilation of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the government agency that insures pension plans. The P.B.G.C. said in its latest annual report that its multiemployer program is likely to run out of money by the end of fiscal year 2025 because of the “rapid decline” in the P.B.G.C.’s financial position. In 2017, the agency paid $141 million in financial assistance to 72 multiemployer pension plans and that number is expected to rise as more plans collapse.

If the multiemployer pension plans go broke, the federal safety net created to protect retirees will not have enough money to make good on the promised benefits, leaving workers with little to no retirement benefits.

“It’s an urgent problem that needs to be fixed,” said Alicia H. Munnell, a management professor at Boston College and the director of its Center for Retirement Research. “Unfortunately there’s an ideological divide — do you bail these people out or not?”

“No one wants to see old, poor people penniless in retirement,” she said.

Mike Walden, a retired Teamster and the president of the National United Committee to Protect Pensions, has led fellow retirees to Washington for several years to pressure members of Congress to fix the problem. Retirees, already squeezed by living on a fixed income, are frustrated at the prospect of seeing their benefits reduced or eliminated if Congress does not act, he said. “I don’t think they understand, when they take money away from us, how much they’re going to hurt the economy.”

Mr. Walden called the creation of the committee a “meaningful step” to soothe nervous retirees. “It’s been way too long — just talk, talk, talk, talk,” he said.

To succeed, the committee must navigate Washington’s aversion to anything that resembles a bailout, particularly as the government is running large deficits that are projected to grow $7 trillion over the next decade — and when many Republicans see unions as political enemies.

And Congress has already tried to help these plans, with little success. In 2014, the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act was enacted to help funds develop rescue plans, including by reducing benefits to retirees. In 2015, Central States submitted such a plan to the Treasury Department, but it was rejected the following year on the grounds that the proposed benefit reductions were unlikely to help the fund avoid insolvency.

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Mr. Brown and Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, a Democrat, have pushed an effort that would attempt to stabilize plans with 30-year loans from the Treasury Department, as long as plan managers could demonstrate the money would put them on a path to solvency — and not invest it in risky assets. Fiscal hawks, like the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, warn that the bill could leave taxpayers responsible for as much as $100 billion if the loans are not repaid. Backers of the bill say taxpayers should not end up paying a dime.

“This is beyond party affiliation, this really cuts to the root of what retirement is going to look like,” said Mr. Neal, who will be a member of the special committee and has been working to recruit more House Republicans to support his proposal.

Mr. Neal has six Republican co-sponsors on his bill and said that several others have expressed support. A handful of Republican senators have also been engaged on the issue, including Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, who said this month that she was pleased the spending bill “recognizes the urgent need to help tens of thousands of retired coal miners.”

The Trump administration has been largely quiet on the situation, but when asked about it at a congressional hearing last week, Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, noted that it was a “significant” issue and promised to offer technical assistance to support any solution that lawmakers find.

As congressional negotiators homed in on a spending deal early this year, Mr. Brown pushed Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, to attach his pension language to the larger budget agreement. The bill establishes a process to ensure that if the commission produces a bill supported by a majority of its Democratic and Republican members, the Senate will vote on that bill before a new Congress convenes next year.

If concern over retirees is not enough to get lawmakers to act, those who represent pension funds hope that concern about the broader economy will. Michael D. Scott, executive director for the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans, projects that if all of the pension plans that are in “critical” and “critical and declining” condition go broke, the federal government would face a half trillion dollars in lost tax revenue over the next decade because of the taxes that the active funds currently pay.

“I think ultimately the government is going to look at how much tax revenue it is going to lose without a solution,” Mr. Scott said.


https://www.mydaytondailynews.com/bu...u9OhkrPA4cfpK/

Quote:
Brown pushes union pension recovery plan in Dayton
Spoiler:
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown visited with Teamsters members and retirees Friday to push legislation he argues could save a string of ailing blue-collar pensions.
Brown, D-Ohio, visited the Harrison Twp. offices of Teamsters Local 957 to discuss the shortfalls that threaten the union pensions of 60,000 Ohioans and 1.5 million workers and retirees nationwide.

Earlier this month, a 16-member bipartisan, House and Senate joint select committee was established to confront the issue of pension plans strained by falling assets and rising obligations.

The committee will include senators and House members, to be equally divided between Republicans and Democrats. Brown hopes to co-chair the committee.

“These pensions were promised — a promise you extracted at the bargaining table, a sacrifice you made at the bargaining table,” Brown told a standing-room-only crowd at the Armstrong Lane union hall. “It’s money you could have spent on vacations or on your family.”

The Ohio Democrat and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Youngstown, in December introduced the Butch Lewis Act, named for a retired Ohio trucker and Teamster from West Chester Twp. in Butler County who died in late 2015. Butch Lewis’s wife, Rita, has taken up the cause and fought for the bill in her late husband’s absence.

RELATED: Thousands fight to restore pensions

The legislation would let the federal government issue bonds to help close the gap between pension assets and obligations.

Some have criticized what they say is the likely cost of such an effort. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has said new federal relief for pensions could cost $100 billion or more — a number with which Brown’s office disagrees. His office also says no federal taxpayer funds would be used for the plan.

Rita Lewis also spoke in Dayton Friday, as did Mike Walden, president of the National United Committee to Protect Pensions.

“We are on a fixed income,” Walden told a crowd that included mostly retirees. “We’ll never get another raise for the rest of our lives.”

RELATED: Brown pitches pension bill

Brown’s office says several Ohio pension plans, including the Ohio Southwest Carpenters Pension Fund, the Central States Teamsters Pension Fund, the United Mine Workers Pension Plan and others, are “on the brink of failure.”

The new pension committee has instructions to report a bill by the last week of November.

If at least four members from each party agree on a compromise, the bill will be guaranteed an expedited vote on both the House and Senate floors free of amendments, Brown’s office said.



http://www.kvrr.com/2018/02/19/bipar...ension-crisis/

Quote:
Bipartisan Committee Formed To Find Solution to Pension Crisis
THREATENS 2,000 NORTH DAKOTANS AND 400,00 RETIREES ACROSS THE COUNTRY
Spoiler:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A solution for the country’s pension crisis didn’t make it in the final budget, but a bipartisan committee has been set up as a compromise.

The pension crisis is threatening 2,000 North Dakotans and 400,000 retirees across the country who paid into Central States Pension Fund and others.

The committee will be required to hold at least five public meetings and report a bill by the last week of November.

If action isn’t taken, many retirees and their families will see severe cuts to their hard-earned retirement savings.

“We were able to get a committee that will in fact sit down and in a bipartisan way take a look at these pension challenges and come up with recommendations by the end of the year,” said Democratic U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

“You know, a committee is no replacement for a permanent fix but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.”

If the Central States Pension Plan and other pension plans are allowed to fail, taxpayers could be at risk of having to pay billions to cover the losses.


http://www.mooncap.com/corporate-pen...ilouts-coming/

Quote:
CORPORATE PENSION BAILOUTS COMING?

Spoiler:
An old saying suggests that as General Motors goes, so goes the nation. If true, and I fear it is, retirement planning is being driven into an actuarial ditch.

Pension accounting is complex, but hang in with me with for 2 paragraphs. General Motors’ U.S. pension has $62.4 billion in assets, with an estimated $68.5 billion in obligations, resulting in a $6.1 billion funding shortfall. This estimated shortfall would be even greater, except GM increased its estimates of future investment returns and reduced its assumptions for the general level of interest rates. This, when logic suggests doing the exact opposite. Investment returns over the next ten years are almost certain to be lower – not higher – than the previous 10 years. And the GM pension assumptions may be the only place in the U.S. where interest rates declined last year.

Further confirming GM’s pension denial is that its assumed future investment returns have no connection to its asset allocation. The company assumes the plan will earn 6.6% annually, yet 61% of its assets are invested in bonds, an asset class that few analysts expect to earn anywhere near 6%.

Even with ridiculous assumptions and a $6 billion funding gap, GM intends to make no cash contributions into the plan over the next 5 years, virtually guaranteeing a deterioration of the plan’s financial state.

If history is any guide, GM’s can make any assumptions it chooses with fiscal impunity, as the federal government will bail out the plan should it reach a crisis state. The legislative groundwork is in the works.

The recently introduced Butch Lewis Act would allow the Treasury to borrow up to $500 billion to inject into at-risk multiemployer pension plans. In a massive game of arbitrage, the Treasury would issue bonds at a low rate and supply this cash to pension plans who would then invest in corporate bonds that exceed the rate on the borrowed funds.

How big is the problem? Roughly one-third of individuals in multiemployer pensions are participants in plans now classified as critical in terms of their near term funding deficiency. These plans have a collective unfunded liability of more than $260 billion. In critical status, certain plans can cut benefits for current workers that are usually protected from cutbacks. If passed, the legislation would delay any need for cutbacks, but benefit payouts would lead to difficulties in paying back the loans.

Companies have lobbyists and unions to plead their pension cases to the federal government. It is the taxpayers – that is, current and future retirees – who are on the hook for any bailouts. With a third of households having zero retirement savings, taxpayers are more likely to want a bailout, not fund one.


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