The New York Times reported this week that the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion “coronavirus relief” bill includes $86 billion for failing pension funds.
The Times reported:
Tucked inside the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that cleared the Senate on Saturday is an $86 billion aid package that has nothing to do with the pandemic.
Rather, the $86 billion is a taxpayer bailout for about 185 union pension plans that are so close to collapse that without the rescue, more than a million retired truck drivers, retail clerks, builders and others could be forced to forgo retirement income.
The bailout targets multiemployer pension plans, which bring groups of companies together with a union to provide guaranteed benefits. All told, about 1,400 of the plans cover about 10.7 million active and retired workers, often in fields like construction or entertainment where the workers move from job to job.
Both the House and Senate stimulus measures would give the weakest plans enough money to pay hundreds of thousands of retirees — a number that will grow in the future — their full pensions for the next 30 years. The provision does not require the plans to pay back the bailout, freeze accruals or to end the practices that led to their current distress, which means their troubles could recur. Nor does it explain what will happen when the taxpayer money runs out 30 years from now.
Moreover, as the Wall Street Journal noted Wednesday, the Democrats’ bill provides $360 billion in relief for states, some of which will be used to bail out ailing state pension funds:
Much of the relief will invariably flow to government union pension funds, which are underfunded in states like Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut. To inoculate themselves from GOP attacks, Democrats specified in the bill that relief funds may not be used “for deposit into any pension fund.” But money is fungible. States can pay out of their general funds for pensions and use the federal cash for something else.
The Journal‘s Jason Riley also described the bill as “the largest expansion of the welfare state since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is How Not to Be a Sh!thole Country: Lessons from South Africa. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.