Pensions & Bailouts

How can Congress Protect Pensioners and Taxpayers?

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

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Virtually every worker with a union-run pension plan stands to lose some or most of his promised pension. That is because the multiemployer pension system as a whole is only 43 percent funded. Over the past decades, about 1,400 multiemployer (union-run) pension plans covering 10.6 million workers promised an estimated $638 billion more in pension benefits than they set aside to pay workers. Now, the unions and employers that failed to deliver on their promises want Congress to solve their problems through taxpayer-funded bailouts of, and subsidized loans to, insolvent pension plans.

Government action is needed to protect pensioners and minimize pension losses. But is a bailout of these pension funds really the answer? And what would a bailout precedent mean for the estimated $4 trillion to $6 trillion in unfunded pension promises made by state and local governments? Rachel will talk about how government can bring needed reform to protect pensions without simply shifting the cost to taxpayers.

 

Rachel Greszler is a research fellow in the Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget at The Heritage Foundation where she focuses on retirement and labor policies such as Social Security, disability insurance, pensions, and worker compensation. Before joining Heritage in 2013, Greszler was a senior economist on the staff of the Joint Economic Committee of the Congress for seven years. She completed her graduate studies at Georgetown University, where she earned master’s degrees in both economics and public policy. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Mary Washington. She is a former Heritage intern. Greszler, who grew up in a small town in Western New York, currently resides in Bethesda, Md. with her husband and six children.

 

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