Blogging Employee Benefits

March 10, 2006

Presidential Plug for Pension Promises

Filed under: Legislation, Pensions — Fuguerre @ 5:05 pm

Q General Motors is having problems with their health care plans, their pension plans, and of course, the issue of gas is definitely one — energy conservation. I know the auto industry has asked the administration for advice and for help in this problem. What role do you see the federal government playing in terms of some of the industries in the country that are partially problem-makers for your policies, as well for the people of our state?

THE PRESIDENT: People have asked whether or not private companies that have made pension promises should be relieved of their responsibility. And my answer is, if you make a promise, you’ve got to keep it — that if you said, I — Company X, Y, Z — promise you this, it’s up to the company to make good on the promise. I think that’s a very important principle to state loud and clear.

Which was the full extent of any focus dedicated to pension reform policy out of over an hour spent by the President at today’s National Newspaper Association Conference. Ordinarily that wouldn’t be enough to merit more than maybe an update comment tacked to my earlier post on the struggles leading to the joint conference committee currently working feverishly toward compromise legislation. Except I’m seeing headlines like “Bush opposed to pension relief” building off reports like “Bush says companies must keep pension promises” which read as though the President said a whole lot more about the civil war breaking out in the pension world than he actually did. As contrasted, say, with his rambling — or “kind of long-winded,” as he himself characterized it — response to the question about civil war potential in Iraq.

To be sure, the Administration does have little if any relief to offer in its pension reform policy, even for the majority of employers acknowledged to be faithfully keeping their pension promises. But don’t look for the details in today’s sound bite.

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