WASHINGTON, May 9 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) introduced legislation Tuesday to protect the pensions of up to 10 million workers and retirees.
The Keep Our Pension Promises Act would reverse a provision passed in 2014 that could result in deep pension cuts for millions of retirees and workers in multi-employer pension plans.
The bill is co-sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
“We have got to send a very loud and clear message to the Republican leadership in Congress and the president of the United States. When a promise is made to the working people of this country with respect to their pensions and retiree health benefits, that promise cannot be broken,” Sanders said. “If Congress could bailout Wall Street and foreign banks throughout the world, we certainly can protect the pension benefits of American workers.”
“Pensions are deferred income and retirees are owed these earned benefits. My bill with Senator Sanders ensures that we do right by our people," Kaptur said. "I thank the cosponsors of the Keep Our Pension Promises Act in the House and Senate and I urge the rest of my colleagues to come to the table and support this bill. I will fight every day to defend retirees. No matter where retirees draw their retirement, whether it is a pension, a 401k or Social Security, Americans deserve financial stability and security in their older years."
In December 2014, Congress approved and the president signed a spending bill that included provisions that allow for dramatic cuts to financially troubled multi-employer pensions. Under this provision, the pension benefits of retirees could be cut by 30 percent or more. Before the law was changed, it was illegal for an employer to cut the pension benefits retirees have earned.
The new legislation establishes a legacy fund within the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation to ensure that multi-employer pension plans can continue to provide pension benefits to every eligible American for decades to come. This legislation is paid for by closing two tax loopholes that allow the wealthiest Americans to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
Sanders, Baldwin and Franken announced the legislation at a news conference where they were joined by representatives of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the National United Committee to Protect Pensions and the Pension Rights Center.
“It’s time for Washington to respect the hard work of American workers and make sure that the promises made to them are kept,” Baldwin said. “A secure retirement is a central pillar of economic security for our working class. The Keep Our Pensions Promise Act ends a loophole and tax break for the wealthy so we can protect the retirement security families have worked for, planned for and depend on.”
Reps. Kaptur, Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Rick Nolan (D-Minn.), John Yarmouth (D-Ky.), Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) held events in their districts today in support of the plan.
To read a summary of the bill, click here.
To read the full text, click here.
To watch the press conference, click here.