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Pension Protection Technical Corrections Act of 2008

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. McKEON. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 3361, the Pension Protection Technical Corrections Act of 2008, and I urge all of my colleagues to support this measure.

Mr. Speaker, in 2006, the Republican-led Congress passed, and President Bush signed into law, the Pension Protection Act of 2006, which represented the most comprehensive reform of our Nation's private pension system in a generation. After years of thorough examination, thoughtful legislative development, and careful coalition-building, we finally restored common sense to our Nation's pension system through enactment of this landmark law. Thanks to those reforms, today's retirement security laws match the new realities of the 21st century economy, meaning that more U.S. workers will be able to count on their retirement savings being there for them when they need it.

The Pension Protection Act included tough new funding requirements to ensure employers adequately and consistently fund their pension plans, provided workers with meaningful disclosure about the financial status of their benefits, and protected taxpayers from a possible multi-billion dollar bailout of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).

The Pension Protection Act's reforms were built on six fundamental principles that helped ensure a stronger, more secure retirement for millions of American workers. Those principles were: certainty, with a permanent and more accurate calculation of employers' pension liabilities; common sense, which enabled employers to build up a cushion in their pension plans during good economic times; stability, achieved by closing funding loopholes and ensuring employers make adequate and consistent cash payments to their plans; transparency through timely and straightforward information given to employees about the health of their retirement plans; honesty from employers and union leaders, who are no longer permitted to make hollow promises of extra benefits that will never materialize because a plan is severely underfunded; and portability, established by ensuring that hybrid plans, such as cash balance pensions--which offer portable, more generous worker benefits--remain a viable part of the defined benefit system. Having served as the Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce during this process, I am pleased to have been part of this effort.

Of course, it is to be expected that in legislation of that magnitude, we did not get every word perfect, or every provision as clear as it could be. That is the point of the bill before us today--H.R. 3361 is a narrow, technical bill that corrects inadvertent errors in drafting contained in the original law, and provides necessary clarification and focus, to ensure that the law is administered as Congress intended. For that reason, I support the bill before us today, and hope that it will quickly be enacted into law.

I must note for the record, however, that more remains to be done. The bill before us is very narrow in scope, and addresses only those issues that are considered purely technical on a consensus basis. There are other issues that remain to be addressed.

For example, late last year, the Senate passed by unanimous consent its own version of a technical corrections bill, which included critical clarifications with respect to the issue of asset smoothing. I would hope that this issue is addressed in any final technical correction package that we consider.

Also, there are numerous provisions which Members and staff have discussed since enactment of the 2006 law, which enjoy broad, bipartisan support, but which did not fall within the scope of this narrow package of technical corrections. Going forward, it will be necessary for us to address these items, and I stand ready to work with my Chairman, Mr. MILLER, and the distinguished Chairman and Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Committee in doing so.

Mr. Speaker, with that, I reiterate my support for this narrow legislation.

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