Congress Drops Holiday Bomb on U.S. Retirees

In a move that will allow deep cuts to earned pension benefits for millions of U.S. retirees, members of Congress are expected to vote this week on a spending bill that includes significant changes to the 1974 law outlawing such cuts.

The legislation, which was brokered behind closed doors by members of the House Education and Workforce Committee, would be attached to the massive omnibus spending bill, and could take effect without opportunity for hearings or public comment.

“I don’t know how members of Congress can explain this shameful betrayal to their constituents,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger, who has called the legislation a declaration of war by Congress on American retirees. “Retirees could face cuts of up to 60 percent to their fixed income and simply do not have the ability to make up the difference.”

Since its inception in 1974, ERISA has expressly forbidden any cuts to the earned pension benefits of workers who have already retired. Amending the law will set a dangerous, potentially lethal precedent for all other pension plans, including single-employer plans, public sector plans, and even Social Security.