PENSION PROTECTION ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - December 15, 2005)
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Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposiiton to the so-called Pension Protection Act and in support of the Democratic motion to recommit.
There is no question that our Nation is facing a pension crisis. Over 34 million American workers currently rely on the benefits they receive from a defined benefit pension plan to make ends meet. Yet, with the growing number of corporations cutting pension benefits or declaring bankruptcy, people are increasingly concerned about their retirement security. More and more, American workers are facing the prospect of seeing their employers use our Nation's bankruptcy laws to back out of their pension promises and turning their obligations over to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)--which only partially funds promised benefits.
Unfortunately, the bill before us today is a missed opportunity to provide American workers with real pension protection.
H.R. 2830 makes significant changes to the rules for defined benefit pension plans, increases the premiums that companies pay into the PBGC, and does nothing to prevent companies from dumping their pension obligations on American taxpayers. According to the Chief Investment Officers of over sixty percent of our Nation's largest pension plans, these likely will lead to cuts or terminations of existing plans. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this legislation would add over $70 billion to the federal deficit and fails to improve the PBGC's financial condition by increasing the agency's financial shortfall by $2.5 billion.
Rather than allowing an open debate on this important issue, the majority leadership has chosen to close this bill from amendments or even allow consideration of a Democratic substitute. The Miller/Cardin motion to recommit protects American pension benefits by making it harder for companies to declare bankruptcy and abandon workers pensions, protects worker's retirement security by providing employers with pension funding stability and gives the airlines the tools they need to shore up their employee pension plans. This alternative would provide American workers with real pension protection, rather than continued retirement insecurity.
Mr. Speaker, today's legislation is the latest in a series of attempts to privatize profits and socialize losses. It is my sincere hope that as we move into conference, we can produce legislation that will protect the hard earned pension benefits of our Nation's workers.
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