MN03 Erik Paulsen Rushing Pension Reform Legislation Through House

Shades of 2014 … a Minnesota Congressman promotes success of human trafficking legislation as reason for another term, then in the lame duck session inserts pension reform legislation into “must-pass” end-of-year bill that threatens pensioners … who do not realize the impacts until long after Election Day.

In 2014, it was the “Gregarious Grandpa” John Kline who ran television ads proclaiming his goal of “ensuring the safety of our kids and protecting our most vulnerable youth” as reason for his re-election … and then during the lame duck session was able to insert in a 161-page amendment to the “CRomnibus” – fundamentally changing pension regulations – including permitting pension plans to cut the earned and vested pension benefits of current retirees.
Remember the Strib story quoting Dave Erickson of Isanti, “They’ve sneaked this in,” Erickson said. “They don’t have the guts to come out and tell us they’re taking our money. It makes me sick. The pension payment was something I counted on.”

Well, it’s 2018 and John Kline is firmly retired … and multiemployer pensions are still in crisis. About 10 million Americans participate in multiemployer plans and about 1.5 million workers are in plans that are quickly running out of money.

And still talking about human trafficking is Minnesota’s Third District Congressman Erik Paulsen.

And “Representative” Paulsen is also working on a pension bill … which he is not talking up as a central re-election theme.

The bill is H.R. 6377, the “Save Community Newspaper Act of 2018″.

On July 16, 2018, “Representative” Paulsen introduced the bill … and on July 18, 2018 “Representative” Paulsen was able to get a voice vote approval out of his Ways and Means Committee.

WOW … for a Congressman who says that he wants action on gun violence, DACA and Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (H.R. 5072), he sure seemed to get quick action on pensions !

Surprisingly, his “Save Community Newspaper Act of 2018″ did not get a favorable response from Rachel Greszler, a senior policy analyst in economics and entitlements at The Heritage Foundation.
Yep, someone at The Heritage Foundation is complaining about Congressman Paulsen’s bill … and citing the 2014 multiemployer pension problem that John Kline was addressing. (highlights below)

Special-Interest Bill Could Put Workers’ Pensions at Risk

Reducing the minimum monthly payment on someone’s massive credit card debt and issuing them an additional credit card won’t solve that person’s financial problems.
It will only make them worse, by allowing the individual to accumulate more debt.

Have lawmakers learned nothing from the multiemployer crisis?

While changing the rules so that companies can contribute less to workers’ pensions may help those companies stay afloat in the short-term, it will hurt workers in the long-run when their planned-upon pension incomes aren’t there for them in retirement.

Regulations specify that individual companies that provide defined-benefit pensions must contribute enough money each year to make good on their pension promises. H.R. 6377, the “Save Community Newspaper Act of 2018” would create a special-interest exemption for certain financially troubled community newspapers so that they could contribute significantly less than needed to make good on their promises.

That would be bad for the workers who are supposed to receive those pensions; bad for the government’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, which insures private pensions; and potentially bad for taxpayers, who could be forced to bail out private-sector pensions.

No doubt that Congress should be concern about the financial health of pension programs … yet, “Representative” Paulsen has somehow determined that he must “Save Community Newspapers” ?

Surely, this issue was one that was brought up during one of the many Paulsen Town Halls … as opposed to being advanced by a #PaulsenDonor.

Yet, what is disturbing is that Congressman Erik Paulsen has focused on only one industry – actually a small segment of that industry.
Better, yet why hasn’t Congressman Paulsen sponsored H.R.5282 – Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act of 2018 ?
This bipartisan bill (35R 22D) enjoys the support of AARP, American Council of Life Insurers, American Retirement Association, Hispanic Leadership Fund, Insured Retirement Institute, Society for Human Resource Management, and others.

With the Ways and Means Committee approval of H.R. 6377, the “Save Community Newspaper Act of 2018″, the next action should be action by the Education and Workforce Committee (where Minnesota’s Second District Jason Lewis sits) … or it may go directly for a floor vote.

Constituents may want to make a call to the Paulsen and Lewis offices to express their views on pensions … before the next lame duck session.

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