The Financial Times is upset at the pension bill as well:
MSN Money - Financial Times Business News: US pension bill allows big cut in contributions : Employers will be able to slash their contributions to underfunded pension schemes by tens of billions of dollars over the next five years under proposed legislation before Congress that was expected to have the opposite effect. The legislation was proposed by the White House last year to lessen the risk of a taxpayer bailout of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, a federal safety net for pension schemes. According to an analysis prepared this week by the Joint Committee on Taxation, which does bipartisan technical work on legislation for Congress, The Pension Security and Transparency Act of 2005 would bring at least $10bn in additional tax revenue as employers reduce pension contributions on which they would have been eligible for tax relief. Assuming an average corporate tax rate of 35 per cent, the data suggest a temporary but significant drop in employer payments into pension schemes over the next few years.
The analysis shows tax revenues will rise by $10.2bn under the House version of the bill, and by $12bn under the Senate's, between 2006-11 as a result of the weakened contribution requirements. Funding of pension schemes would reach a low ebb in 2008 under both versions, while tax relief for increased contributions would not begin to rise until 2011....
Separately, Bradley Belt, executive director of the PBGC, announced on Thursday he intends to step down at the end of May "to pursue other opportunities". A spokesman for the PBGC declined to comment on Mr Belt's departure beyond the resignation letter. In a speech two weeks ago, Mr Belt called for both congressional bills to be strengthened and warned that if "the end-product...is a bill that fails to improve on the current law, the president's senior advisers have said they will recommend a veto". Both bills fall far short of the goals set out for legislation proposed last year by the White House, which had formally threatened a veto unless certain measures in either bill are altered.
Of particular note are provisions in the Senate version of the bill which allow the airline industry up to 20 years to fully fund its pension deficits and also give it much wider leeway in the assumptions it uses to determine whether or not company schemes are fully funded....
If you have a company pension, and if you are not an idiot, you need to vote against your Republican Congressman who have doublecrossed you on this. Just sayin'.
Meanwhile, Wonkette's commenters deal with the Bush administration's reaction to this news in the only appropriate way:
And what did the White House have to say about all this?
Question: Scott, Bradley Belt resigned or quit from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Do you know why? Can you fill us in?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I don’t have any more on that. I mean, I’d be glad to take a look at it, but I imagine it’s probably in his letter why he left.
"I imagine?" WTF?
"Why I imagine that Bradley Belt was yanked into the land of Faerie, to serve as slave and jester in the court of Oberon the Faerie King for the next 650 years. Perhaps he will be given the ears of a donkey! Perhaps he will be transformed into a Rowan tree at the whim of the capricious magical King! Who knows! This is Scott McClellan: IMAGINEER."
by Alfonso X. Alfonse on 03/24/06 02:59 PM