Blogging Employee Benefits

March 1, 2006

How Many Senators Does It Take to Screw In a PBGC Lightbulb?

Filed under: Legislation — Fuguerre @ 11:43 am

Only 12 (7 Rs + 5 Ds) if you’re Republican, but 14 (8 Rs + 6 Ds) if you’re Democrat. (See item 2 of CR S1493.) The House sits and watches the Senate fight over the punchline before the two chambers move to serious business in conference on pension funding reform legislation.

Not that IRC §410(b)(1)(B) is intended for this purpose, but as long as I can still find any humor in any of this, let’s run a coverage test on it. Under the ratio percentage test, the Republicans’ position is consistent with a Senate that is 50.5% Republican, while the Democrats’ counteroffer is slightly closer to the current Senate, being consistent with Republican majority of 51.7% if we were to apply the ratio percentage test. If we wanted to keep a 2-senator differential between Republican senator conferees versus Democratic senator conferees, yet still pass the 410(b)(1)(B) ratio percentage test based on the actual Senate concentration of Republicans versus Democrats, we’d need a Senate contingent of 14 Republicans and 12 Democrats, yielding 26 as the answer to the riddle. Which of course we won’t see, as that would suck over a quarter of the Senate away from its other duties (although the corporate tax bill did have 23 Senate conferees). Maybe if we were to consider the Senate to be like one of two QSLOBs.


  1. As a Democrat, I strongly support Harry Reid when he says another pair of Democratic eyes are needed. Clearly, this is more akin to a facts and circumstances test. Just think what might happen if only 5 Democrats were involved instead of 6!

    Comment by JHM — March 1, 2006 @ 4:16 pm

  2. Reuters is reporting that the logjam has broken: the correct answer to the riddle is 16: 9R + 7D.

    Comment by Fuguerre — March 3, 2006 @ 3:33 pm

  3. Names of the Senate conferees.

    Comment by Fuguerre — March 4, 2006 @ 8:05 pm

  4. Now there was a distracting little episode of political theater! Clearly, the House Dems’ motion to instruct conferees was going to be rejected, but was it at least worth the attempt, if but to get a few pithy sound bites on into the record? We’re for our airline pilots, our savers’ credit, and the preservation of our defined benefit system against freeze. Interesting to be hearing that side of the aisle seeming to side with the mainstream lobbyists decried by the Administration on the general sense of targeting funding rules so as to have as little effect as possible on the majority of pension plans that are actually in rather decent financial shape; although it must be at least footnoted as “interesting” that GM’s freeze announcement yesterday was carted out as though illustration of the need to help out those well-funded plans, when any compromise pension reform legislation is going to be unacceptable to the Administration to the extent it fails to adequately protect the PBGC from GM’s pension deficit.

    Anyway, with appointment of House conferees, we now have a conference committee off and running.

    Comment by Fuguerre — March 8, 2006 @ 2:50 pm

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