IT IS IMPORTANT TO SEE THAT POLITICIANS HAVE BEEN WORKING AGAINST PENSIONS IN FAVOR OF THE CORPORATIONS ALL ALONG. ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS A SUPERMAJORITY OF DEMOCRATS ELECTED IN 2008 WOULD ADDRESS IS PENSION/ENTITLEMENT PROTECTION, EXCEPT WE HAVE A CORPORATE THIRD WAY LEADERSHIP, SO PENSIONS WERE LEFT TO DECLINE. LIKE THE ARTICLE SHOWED YESTERDAY, THE PENSION BENEFIT GUARENTY CORPORATION (PBGC) ACTUALLY TOSSED THE PRIVATE SECTOR WORKER UNDER THE TRAIN BY MOVING FROM BONDS TO STOCKS. IT ISN'T ONLY THE 23% DROP IN ASSETS LOST THAT HURTS, IT IS THE LAW ATTACHED TO ERISA---THE LAW SUPPOSEDLY PROTECTING PENSIONS, THAT BASICALLY GUTTED THE PENSIONS. REMEMBER, THE GOVERNMENT OPERATED PBGC
WAS CREATED TO TAKE PRIVATE PENSIONS SHED IN CORPORATE BANKRUPTCY. ALL POLITICIANS NEEDED TO DO IS REMOVE THE ABILITY TO SHED PENSIONS IN BANKRUPTCY AND THERE WOULD BE NO NEED FOR THIS GOVERNMENT AGENCY. YOU CAN SEE BELOW THAT PEOPLE WHOSE PENSIONS FELL INTO THIS GOVERNMENT AGENCY LOST MOST OF THAT PENSION'S VALUE....THIS AGENCY WAS MOSTLY WINDOW-DRESSING.
ALL THIS IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE:
1. WE SEE WITH THIS ARRANGEMENT THE SAME THING WE SEE TODAY, ONLY ON STEROIDS. THESE POLITICIANS ARE TURNING EVERY GOVERNMENT FUNCTION OVER TO THESE INDEPENDENT GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AND TIME AND AGAIN WE SEE THAT THE PUBLIC LOSES ALL CONTROL OVER OUTCOMES AND THE OUTCOMES ARE BAD FOR THE PUBLIC.
2. THESE INDEPENDENT AGENCIES, LIKE PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS, ARE MADE EXEMPT FROM PUBLIC LAWSUITS AND PLACE THE TAXPAYER ON THE HOOK FOR ALL LOSSES...AND ARE ALWAYS FOUND TO HAVE NO OVERSIGHT......THINK FREDDIE MAC. THE EMPLOYEES CAN GO WILD WITH NO CONSEQUENCE.
3. WE HAVE NO IDEA OF WHAT IS HAPPENING IN SIMILAR INDEPENDENT AGENCIES LIKE THE SOCIAL SECURITY TRUST. WE HAVE POLITICIANS RAIDING AND DIVERTING FUNDS INTENDED FOR THE TRUST WITH NO LAWS PREVENTING THAT.
MY POINT IS THIS. IF WE DO NOT STAND UP RIGHT NOW AND DEMAND AN END TO ALL THESE PRIVATE NON-PROFITS AND THESE INDEPENDENT AGENCIES OUR INCUMBENTS ARE UNLEASHING ON US, THE PEOPLE WILL HAVE ABDICATED ALL RIGHTS AS CITIZENS AND BABY BOOMERS WILL ENTER THEIR RETIREMENT YEARS HAVING BEEN TOTALLY ROBBED.
VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT OF OFFICE!!!!!
DEMAND LAWS THAT REQUIRE PUBLIC AUDITS. HERE IN BALTIMORE WE ARE ONLY NOW GETTING SOME AUDITS WHILE EVERY AGENCY SHOULD BE AUDITED......MAKE IT THE NEW GROWTH INDUSTRY!!!
DEMAND YOUR UNION LEADERS/BUSINESSES PROTECT PENSIONS WITH LAWS REQUIRING FULL FUNDING AND INVESTMENT OVERSIGHT. CHANGE THE LANGUAGE OF PENSIONS FROM LIABILITY THAT CAN BE CHANGED AT WILL.
SHOUT FOR LAWS THAT SAY THESE PENSION/SOCIAL SECURITY TRUSTS ARE NOT SUBJECT TO RAIDING....THEY MUST BE LEFT UNTOUCHED.
WE KNOW THAT WE DO NOT HAVE A BUDGET DEFICIT WE HAVE A DEFICIT OF JUSTICE. DO NOT ALLOW THESE POLITICIANS TO SPEAK OF CUTS WITHOUT MAKING THEM BRING BACK FRAUD AND RAISE CORPORATE TAX RATES!!! IF YOUR INCUMBENT IS CALLING FOR CORPORATE TAX CUTS....AND MARYLAND'S ARE.....WHEN CORPORATIONS ARE ROLLING IN MONEY AND WE KNOW HIGHER TAXES DON'T MAKE THEM LESS COMPETITIVE......THEY ARE NOT WORKING FOR YOU AND ME.
WE SEE BELOW THAT THIS PENSION SCARE WAS USED BEFORE (1972) AND THEY USED THE SAME SCARE TACTICS TO ENACT ALL KINDS OF CHANGES THAT WORKED AGAINST THE PENSION SYSTEM. THE PENSION SHORTFALL WAS THE SAME....UNFUNDED AND BAD INVESTMENT.
On September 12, 1972, NBC broadcast Pensions: The Broken Promise, an hour-long television special that showed millions of Americans the consequences of poorly funded pension plans and onerous vesting requirements. In the following years, Congress held a series of public hearings on pension issues and public support for pension reform grew significantly.
Freddie Mac, is a public government-sponsored enterprise (GSE)
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is an independent agency of the United States government
THIS PENSION LAW REMOVED STATE OVERSIGHT OF THESE PENSIONS AND TOOK AWAY PENSIONER'S ABILITY TO SUE FOR ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE. YOUR INCUMBENT KNOWS THIS.
ERISA Section 514 preempts all state laws that relate to any employee benefit plan, with certain, enumerated exceptions. The most important exceptions — i.e. state laws that survive despite the fact that they may relate to an employee benefit plan — are state insurance, banking, or securities laws, generally applicable criminal laws, and domestic relations orders that meet ERISA's qualification requirements.
A major limitation is placed on the insurance exception, known as the "deemer clause", which essentially provides that state insurance law cannot operate on employer self-funded benefit plans. The Supreme Court has created another limitation on the insurance exception, in which even a law regulating insurance will be pre-empted if it purports to add a remedy to a participant or beneficiary in an employee benefit plan that ERISA did not explicitly provide.
It has been argued that in the case of health benefits, the effect of all of this may paradoxically have been to leave plan participants worse off than if ERISA had not been enacted.
Many persons included among the some 47 million people presently without health care coverage in the United States are former ERISA "subscribers", insurance terminology for Plan beneficiaries, who have been denied benefits-usually on the ground that the prescribed care is not medically necessary or is "experimental"-or dropped from coverage, often because they have lost their jobs due to the very illness for which care was denied.[ci
JUST AS WITH ALL OF THESE PUBLIC-PRIVATE AGENCIES WE SEE TIME AND AGAIN NO ACCOUNTABILITY, NO OVERSIGHT. WE WILL SEE MORE OF THAT WITH THESE NON-PROFITS THAT ARE PRIVATE AND ALLOW NO TRANSPARENCY.
No guarantees at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Pension protection agency cited for audit failure, misleading Congress
By John Solomon 5:01 pm, May 3, 2010 Updated: 3:53 pm, August 12, 2011
Senate Aging Committee Chairman Herb Kohl says a Center for Public Integrity investigation that uncovered security, management and procurement weaknesses inside the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) provides fresh evidence that lawmakers need to intervene to fix the federal corporation entrusted with protecting Americans' retirement funds. Inspector General Rebecca Anne Batts Geithner's threat to tap congressional retirement funds rings hollow By John Aloysius Farrell May 19, 2011 Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner notified members of Congress this week that, until they raise the federal debt limit, he would tap one of their retirement funds — known as the “G Fund”— to keep the government running.
Pension insurer criticized for switching investment strategies too frequently By Alexandra Duszak August 1, 2011 The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), a federal corporation insuring traditional pensions of more than 44 million American workers, has made too many changes to how it invests almost $80 billion in assets, according to the Government Accountability Of
Last November, the federal corporation charged with protecting Americans’ retirement funds issued an ominous public warning: the amount of pensions at risk inside failing companies had more than tripled during the recession.
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s announcement signaled it might need tens of billions of new dollars to rescue traditional pensions paid by U.S. firms whose economic collapse left them unable to meet their retirement obligations to workers.
At the same time, however, the federally chartered corporation was receiving some bad news of its own: for the first time it was going to flunk an independent audit of the way it manages its finances.
On Nov. 12, 2009, PBGC’s outside audit firm and the corporation’s own internal watchdog jointly informed the federal body it was being cited for a “material weakness” in its internal financial controls, the accounting equivalent of an F grade.
“PBGC did not have effective internal control over financial reporting (including safeguarding assets) and compliance with laws and regulations and its operations,” Inspector General Rebecca Anne Batts wrote in a letter that has escaped public attention despite their potential importance to taxpayers.
Americans may expect such adverse audit findings for corporate bad actors, but the finding is more unusual for a government agency, especially one charged with cleaning up failed companies’ messes and rescuing workers’ pensions.
A Center for Public Integrity review of hundreds of pages of memos, audits and internal reports shows the pension guaranty corporation has been unable to make several guarantees about its own work — in some cases directly misleading Congress and its inspector general into believing long-simmering problems were resolved.
Inspector General Rebecca Anne Batts“Providing false information to OIG or Congress can be a criminal violation,” an angry Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, warned in a letter March 31 that was provided to the Center. The letter chided the corporation for its “apparent dishonesty” in erroneously reporting it had implemented solutions to past problems.
Created in 1974, PBGC is essentially the government’s insurance program for retirees, protecting the pensions of approximately 44 million workers and retirees in more than 29,000 private defined benefit pension plans that promise a fixed monthly payment to retirees for life. When a covered company’s pension plan defaults, PBGC swoops in and protects workers’ retirements.
The corporation receives no tax dollars, and is funded instead by insurance premiums paid by pension plan operators, investments and assets it recovers from companies whose pension plans needed to be rescued.
A litany of problemsGetting its story straight with Congress is just one of PBGC’s problems.
Despite being the custodian of some of Americans’ most private data, PBGC suffers from such lax security that a contractor was able in 2008 to download the pension and Social Security numbers of 1,300 Americans to an unsecured electronic thumb drive that was then lost at an Ohio train station, according to documents and interviews.
The corporation also has been criticized for letting its contractors hire employees with inadequate experience or education, and has been cited repeatedly since 1997 for failing to create a unified financial management system to better safeguard its funds. It lacks the ability, for instance, to independently confirm the investment revenue figures reported by a contractor hired to engage in securities lending on its behalf, according to audit reports and interviews.
And its former chief executive was the subject of a year-long criminal investigation that ended in March with no criminal charges but a conclusion that his conduct raised “serious ethical concerns,” documents show.
“I am acutely aware that every dollar spent on a contractor who doesn’t provide the promised level of service or who doesn’t provide contract workers with the minimum qualifications needed to do the job is a dollar that is not available to pay the pension benefits of the workers that PBGC was created to protect,” Batts said in an interview.
Such systemic problems are equally concerning to lawmakers like Grassley and Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, the chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, particularly because the corporation’s own long-term financial outlook has worsened over the last few years.
Kohl, who is pressing for legislation to strengthen the PBGC’s oversight and governance, said the corporation’s “long-running problems …. should serve as a wake-up call to Congress.”
“Nearly one in six Americans relies on the PBGC to guarantee the pensions they’ve worked a lifetime for. The agency is far too important to let it operate without adequate oversight,” he said.
BELOW YOU'LL SEE A EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE ON PENSION CUTS. THEY FELT THIS 2 YEARS AGO. REMEMBER, THIS FRAUD WAS DESIGNED TO FORCE COUNTRIES TO SHED SOCIAL PROGRAMS AS THE WEALTHY HAVE OTHER PLANS FOR THAT MONEY. SEE HOW THEY PETITIONED TO REFERENDUM WHETHER THESE CUTS WOULD HAPPEN? THE DIFFERENCE FOR AMERICANS IS THAT NOT ALL CITIZENS HAVE PENSIONS AND THEREFOR LESS LIKELY TO SUPPORT EFFORTS TO STOP CUTS.
FOR PUBLIC SECTOR EMPLOYEES THE EXPECTATION WAS THAT THESE PENSIONS WERE OBLIGATIONS AND THEY ARE NOW TREATED AS ARBITRARY. GOING FORWARD WE WANT TO CHANGE THAT LANGUAGE IN CONTRACTS.
Feb 16, 2010 - 21:58 Public puzzled by campaign on pension cuts Opponents of the pension cuts run a high profile campaign (swissinfo) Related Stories The nationwide ballot on planned pension cuts on March 7 is of key importance both to the business community and to trade unions - for different reasons. But less than three weeks ahead of the vote it is not clear to what extent campaigns by supporters and opponents have had an impact on the public perception despite a flood of propaganda material.
Voters will be asked to decide on the minimum conversion rate of the occupational pension scheme. The rate presently stands at about seven per cent and is to be reduced to 6.4 per cent by 2016 if the government and a majority of parliament have their way.
It means that employees will see benefits from the occupational pension scheme – the so called second pillar – reduced.
Under the current rate, a retired man with accumulated capital of SFr100,000 ($93,686) in the pension fund would receive SFr7,000 annually. The new rate would see payments drop to SFr6,400 a year.
" Voters can choose between security and insecurity. "
Didier Burkhalter, Interior Minister “Theft” However, trade unions, consumer groups and centre-left parties collected more than 200,000 signatures within three months – four times more than necessary - to challenge the decision to a referendum.
They argue the reduction is unnecessary and tantamount to “benefits theft” by the Business Federation and private insurance companies.
“Insurance managers want to siphon off as much money from the pension scheme as possible,” said Ruedi Rechsteiner of the centre-left Social Democrats.
The planned pension cuts would threaten “a dignified life” for the older generation, says the Unia trade union - one of the driving forces behind the referendum.
Consumer groups accused insurance companies of scaremongering and using inaccurate figures to prove that the accumulated capital is insufficient to cover for an ageing population.
Risks “The reduction of the conversion rate is necessary to guarantee the future of the pension scheme for the younger generation;” said Gerold Bührer, president of the Swiss Business Federation.
The Employers Association adds that failure to adapt the rate would leave pension funds no choice but to make risky investments to ensure the financial stability of the insurance scheme.
The government, alongside the main centre-right and rightwing parties, warned the country’s unique social security system and economic prosperity were at stake.
“Voters can choose between security and insecurity,” said Interior Minister Didier Burkhalter at the launch of the yes campaign in December.
The mandatory occupational pension benefits are part of the three-tier retirement system, including the state old age pension and individual savings made on a voluntary basis.
What's this? Reputation The run-up to the vote on March 7 has been marked by an unusually early campaign launch, including posters and advertisements particularly by supporters of the pension cuts.
“It is an indication that the business community and centre-right parties consider it an important vote,” says Thomas Milic, political scientist at the universities of Bern and Zurich.
Pension fund consultant and journalist Werner C. Hug describes the vote as a “reputation issue” for supporters.
Trade unions for their part made it clear that they consider it a key element of their opposition to any plans to “undermine the achievements of the welfare state”.
In public perception the campaign is characterised by squabbling over administrative costs of pension funds, forecasts about mortality rates of pensioners and capital revenue as well as the high profile of trade unionist activists.
" Citizens no longer know who they can trust. "
Thomas Milic, political scientist Squabbling Hug regrets that insurance representatives are at the forefront of the campaign to convince voters. The move could backfire in the current political climate, he says.
“A purely technical matter has turned into an emotional issue about excessive manager salaries and greedy banks,” Hug warns.
As a result citizens are increasingly unwilling to use reason to decide on the issue, he suspects.
Political scientist Milic agrees that the flood of contradictory, largely mathematical information, could lead to irritation among the electorate.
“Citizens no longer know who they can trust,” he adds.
Poll It is estimated that supporters will spend about SFr10 million on the campaign, while the unions announced their budget was one tenth that amount. But they hope to make up for it with grassroot members setting up picket lines at public events, activists distributing leaflets, brochures and other campaigning.
Both sides have pledged to step up their efforts with more posters, newspaper ads and online games, including a pension calculator.
In the absence of the usual pre-vote data compiled by a leading polling institute on behalf of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, the unions commissioned their own survey.
It showed that opponents of pension cuts have a clear lead with 40 per cent against and 12 per cent in favour. But more than 40 per cent said they are either undecided or refused to answer.
Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch