Sen. Sherrod Brown Wants to Shore Up Pension Funds

Brown says the retirees worked for their pensions. (photo urycki /ideastream)
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Congressional Democrats are hoping to include a rescue in the end-of-the-year spending package for several large union based pensions that fund managers say are running out of money.   

Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio introduced a bill aimed at preventing what he called 30 to 50% cuts in pension payments for as many as one million teamsters, miners, bakers, and carpenters. 

It’s named the Butch Lewis Act after a Cincinnati area Teamster who carried on the fight to save his pension fund but died in 2015.

“This legislation is not a bailout,” says Brown.  “This legislation, which will be bi-partisan as we move it through the senate and the house.   We’ll make sure that people’s pensions- which they’ve earned – they’ve worked 30-40 years for these pensions -   will in fact be restored and will be made whole.”  

Brown likens it to the non-partisan effort signed earlier this year to save health care for retired miners.    This time it would employ low interest loans to shore up the pensions.

 “We do this bill through the sale of 30 year bonds from the Treasury, low interest, secure bonds.   Use those dollars in a way to invest in over 30 years these -  There will be very few taxpayers’ dollars at risk in this. “  

Brown says if the pensions fail, the federal Pension Benefits Guarantee Corporation will not be able to save them.

A spokesman for Ohio’s other Senator, Rob Portman, says the Republican is still reviewing the proposal.  

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