Sanders, Kaptur introduce bill to restore retirement security for 10 million

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Sanders, Kaptur introduce bill to restore retirement security for 10 million

Tue, 05/09/2017 - 2:07pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VVermont) and Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) introduced legislation Tuesday to protect the pensions of up to 10 million workers and retirees. The Keep Our Pension Promises Act would reverse a provision passed in 2014 that could result in deep pension cuts for millions of retirees and workers in multi-employer pension plans.

The bill is co-sponsored in the Senate by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

Senators Bernie Sanders and Tammy Baldwin, joined by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the National United Committee to Protect Pensions and the Pension Rights Center, introduce the Keep Our Pension Promises Act. The act would reverse a provision passed in 2014 that could result in deep pension cuts for millions of retirees and workers in multi-employer pension plans.

“We have got to send a very loud and clear message to the Republican leadership in Congress and the president of the United States. When a promise is made to the working people of this country with respect to their pensions and retiree health benefits, that promise cannot be broken,” Sanders said. “If Congress could bail out Wall Street and foreign banks throughout the world, we certainly can protect the pension benefits of American workers.”

“Pensions are deferred income and retirees are owed these earned benefits. My bill with Senator Sanders ensures that we do right by our people," Kaptur said. "I thank the cosponsors of the Keep Our Pension Promises Act in the House and Senate and I urge the rest of my colleagues to come to the table and support this bill. I will fight every day to defend retirees. No matter where retirees draw their retirement, whether it is a pension, a 401k or Social Security, Americans deserve financial stability and security in their older years."

In December 2014, Congress approved and the president signed a spending bill that included provisions that allow for dramatic cuts to financially troubled multi-employer pensions. Under this provision, the pension benefits of retirees could be cut by 30 percent or more. Before the law was changed, it was illegal for an employer to cut the pension benefits retirees have earned.

The new legislation establishes a legacy fund within the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation to ensure that multi-employer pension plans can continue to provide pension benefits to every eligible American for decades to come. This legislation is paid for by closing two tax loopholes that allow the wealthiest Americans to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

Sanders, Baldwin and Franken announced the legislation at a news conference where they were joined by representatives of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the National United Committee to Protect Pensions and the Pension Rights Center.

“It’s time for Washington to respect the hard work of American workers and make sure that the promises made to them are kept,” Baldwin said. “A secure retirement is a central pillar of economic security for our working class. The Keep Our Pensions Promise Act ends a loophole and tax break for the wealthy so we can protect the retirement security families have worked for, planned for and depend on.”

Reps. Kaptur, Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Rick Nolan (D-Minn.), John Yarmouth (D-Ky.) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) held events in their districts today in support of the plan.

Keep our Pension Promises Act
To be introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Marcy Kaptur
The Keep our Pension Promises Act will protect earned pension benefits and strengthen multiemployer pension plans for participating employers and workers.

Background
For more than 40 years, U.S. law prevented ongoing pension plans from unilaterally cutting workers and retiree’s promised benefits. But provisions gutting these protections and decimating our multiemployer pension system were slipped into the 2014 omnibus spending bill passed to avoid a government shutdown. This made individuals who worked hard their entire careers, giving up pay raises and other benefits for the promise of a pension, vulnerable to having their promised benefits slashed and being thrown into poverty in retirement.
More than 10 million Americans depend on a multiemployer pension plan for their retirement security. These pensions, along with single-employer pensions covering another 30 million Americans, are overseen and insured by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). Currently, if a plan becomes severely underfunded, retirees can see their benefits drastically reduced, in some cases by as much as 60 to 70 percent.

The PBGC multiemployer insurance system itself is at great risk of becoming insolvent over the coming decade. Something must be done to ensure the workers and retirees in these plans, individuals who played by the rules and worked hard to build this country, are able to keep the promise made to them for a secure retirement. The Keep our Pension Promises Act would close two tax loopholes used by the wealthiest Americans to provide additional funding for our multiemployer pension system. It is currently the only legislative solution to our looming multiemployer pension crisis.

The bill will:

  • Protect retirees by restoring the anti-cutback rule

These pensions were earned by individuals through a lifetime of hard work and are crucial to their retirement security. This bill would restore anti-cutbacks rules so that retirees in financially troubled multi-employer pension plans will not see their earned pension benefits cut.

  • Strengthen multi-employer pension plans

This bill gives participating employers relief from having to shoulder the full financial burden and risk of underfunded “orphaned” participants, workers and retirees whose former employers went bankrupt or pulled out of the plan without paying everything they owed. This will help ensure that plans can become financially secure and strong.

  • Provide additional funding to help protect retirees and the PBGC

A legacy fund would be created within the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to help ensure that participants in financially troubled plans will continue to receive the benefits they depend upon. The cost to shore up the PBGC and create this legacy fund would be covered by closing tax loopholes used by the very wealthy to accumulate expensive artwork and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax-advantaged savings.

  • Protect employers participating in multi-employer plans

This bill ensures pension obligations are prioritized during bankruptcies. This helps the remaining employers by making it less likely they become responsible for underfunded plans.

Source: WASHINGTON, May 9, 2017 – Senator Bernie Sanders