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USMCA & Pension Bailout Bills Don’t Mix Well, Taxpayer Advocates Warn

Nov 15, 2019 by Gabrielle Braud

Arlington, Va. – Nearly 20 organizations including Americans for Prosperity have a new message for Congress: pension bailout proposals such as the so-called “Butch Lewis Act” are an affront to taxpayers and should be considered on their own rather than stuffed into an appropriations measure or trade legislation implementing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Legislation such as H.R. 397 the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions (Butch Lewis) Act would “recklessly bail out hundreds of irresponsible private pension plans, costing taxpayers billions, yet still fail to fix the system that allowed these problems to exist in the first place,” the groups wrote in a letter to Congress today. They urged lawmakers to consider such bills individually rather than combining them with must-pass appropriations or USMCA legislation, a scenario they rejected as “unacceptable.”

“Underfunded pensions are a serious problem affecting private businesses, state and local governments, and their workers. Yet taxpayers have not caused these problems – pension managers have,” they noted. “Managers of both the pension funds and businesses created this sad problem; they should be accountable and find solutions that don’t simply transfer the burden on the taxpayers.”

The pension bills set a “terrible precedent for bailing out irresponsible pension fund managers which could then pave the way to bailing out not just single-employer plans, but state and local government pensions that are underfunded by an additional $4 to $6 trillion” and should be rejected by lawmakers, they concluded.

Read the full letter here.