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Harkin Statement on PBGC Annual Report

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement today on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s (PBGC) 2014 Annual Report. Congress requires the agency to provide the Annual Report so that policymakers and the general public have a better understanding of the health of PBGC and the private pension system. The HELP Committee is responsible for the oversight of the PBGC. 

“For millions of hardworking Americans and retirees, the Pensions Benefit Guaranty Corporation plays a critical role in protecting retirement security,” said Harkin. “Today’s report offers promising signs for the financial strength of many single-employer pension plans, but without Congressional action, many multiemployer pensions are projected to not have enough money to pay the promised benefits by as early as 2022. This would affect pensions covering more than 10 million workers and retirees in about 1,400 plans. While the PBGC provides a modest guarantee, this report makes clear that the multiemployer insurance program is in serious danger and may not be there to pay all the guaranteed benefits. This is a real problem for workers, retirees, and employers, and an issue that must be addressed soon”.   

“Protecting the retirement security of every American is vital to our long-term economic growth,” Harkin added. “I urge my colleagues to work in a bipartisan way to address this issue and take the steps needed to ensure the retirement security of middle class families across the country.”

As Chairman of the HELP Committee, Harkin has been a leading voice in the push to strengthen pension plans, Social Security, and other programs that support the retirement security of millions of hardworking Americans. In January 2014, Harkin introduced  the Universal, Secure, and Adaptable (USA) Retirement Funds Act of 2014 to provide for the growing number of Americans reaching retirement age and to rebuild the private pension system. This year, the retirement income deficit is close to $6.6 trillion, leaving many Americans vastly unprepared for retirement. Additionally, 75 million working Americans do not have a retirement plan, and half of all Americans have less than $10,000 in savings.

Harkin’s legislation followed a July 2012 report examining the nation’s burgeoning retirement crisis, which found that one of the main causes behind the crisis is that people who work for small businesses lack access to quality, low-cost retirement plans. As HELP Chairman, Harkin has convened ten hearings to study and discuss retirement security and ways to tackle the retirement crisis.