Pensions Become Political Parlor Game for Some


Pension challenges are plentiful around the country, jeopardizing workers and retirees who have saved for decades in an effort to secure a financial nest egg for their golden years. But too many times, lawmakers are either at the center of the issue or are refusing to take action to stop it.

Take, for instance, Kansas.  There, a measure is moving through the Legislature that would allow the state to borrow against the pension fund of public workers in order to close a budget shortfall. Of course, there is no guarantee that the monies will ever be returned to the pension’s coffers.

As the Kansas City Star noted in an editorial, the legislation is a bad idea for the state as well as workers, given the past budget efforts of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R):

“[W]hy would anyone trust the ‘we’ll gladly pay you back’ line from a deadbeat state that already has had to divert $1.4 billion from its road funds and repeatedly sliced its annual budget the last few years?

“Brownback and the Republican-controlled Legislature are recklessly looking for any cash they can find while refusing to consider the single best way to improve the situation: reverse the costly income tax cuts that took effect in 2013.”

Meanwhile, efforts to secure pensions in the nation’s capital haven’t been any more successful, at least not yet.  For years, the Teamsters have sought solutions to boost the Central States pension fund, lobbying lawmakers and federal officials as part of a fight that continues to this day. But that is not the only such struggle going on now in Washington.

In fact, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) turned his back on the United Mine Workers (UMW) late last year, single-handedly halting a bipartisan effort that would have boosted that union’s retirement and health fund in a move many saw as retribution. The UMW supported his opponent during the 2014 election. As a result, the future of 120,000 miners and their families is now at risk.

Lawmakers are supposed to act on behalf of everyday Americans. But too many seem more concerned with their own vanity projects or political vendettas than what is right for their constituents. Workers must not be treated as a pawn in their game.

It’s time to take retirement security seriously by finding solutions that help the people!