Monday, December 05, 2005

Credit Where Credit is Due

Almost all the things Bush proposes which sound nice at first and then eventually turn to shit so I'm not going to hold my breath for this, but if he's genuinely serious about this then we will give him the presidential head pat he deserves.

Now for the good of the workers, we need to strengthen the rules governing private pensions, as well. You know, most Americans work for private companies that offer traditional pensions. And most companies, like this one, are fulfilling their obligations to their employees and their retirees. But too many companies are not putting away the cash they need to fund the retirement promises they're making to their employees. In other words, they're saying, we'll make sure you got a retirement system, but they're not funding it. Therefore, when -- if the company were to get into financial trouble and go bankrupt, their failure to live up to their promises, their failure to fund their pensions will leave retirees with pension checks that have been slashed.

Now, the federal government insures these pensions, and that means that if more and more companies fail to meet their responsibilities, the federal government might have to step in and bail them out. In that case, it would not only be the retirees who are harmed by the companies not fulfilling their obligations, but it can mean the taxpayers, as well. Every American has an interest in seeing to it that this system gets fixed. So whether you're a worker at a company with an under-funded pension, or a taxpayer, it's what I want you to understand.

In our society, we've had some companies -- big companies go bankrupt, and workers at those companies know what I'm talking about. And so my message to corporate America is: You need to fulfill your promises. When you say to a worker, this is what they're going to get when they retire, you better put enough money in the account to make sure the worker gets that which you said. (Applause.)

The government's current pension rules are confusing and misleading -- they allow companies to technically play by the rules and yet still not fund the promises they've made to their employees. And so Congress needs to straighten up these rules so that there's no confusion, so that everybody understands what I just said. I said, if you make a promise to a worker, you put enough money in the account to fulfill that promise.

So we proposed reforms to the pension rules that say this, that say that companies must accurately measure and report the financial status of their pension plans to make sure they're fulfilling the promises they make. This reform plan would give companies that under-fund their pensions seven years to catch up. That seems reasonable to me. We're going to give you a little time to do what you said you're going to do, but you're going to do what you said you're going to do.