Douglas Andrews / March 9, 2021

Buckle Up for an $86 Billion Pension Bailout

Buried within the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion fiscal monstrosity is an $86 billion bailout for mismanaged union pension plans.

“It was the best day of my Senate career,” said Ohio Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown on Saturday — which means it was probably the worst day of his Senate career for the rest of us.

Brown was referring to passage of the abominably misnamed and misappropriated American Rescue Plan, a $1,900,000,000,000 grab bag of progressive giveaways that we wrote about yesterday, and that the House will vote on (again) today, and that our children and grandchildren will be on the hook for tomorrow. More specifically, Brown was referring to an $86 billion provision tucked inside that larger bill that will bail out some 185 mismanaged union pension plans.

“Just to show you how bad this bill is,” said Republican Tennessee Senator Bill Hagerty last week, “there’s more money in this to bail out union pension funds than all the money combined for vaccine distribution and testing.”

As even the leftist spendthrifts at The New York Times admit, this taxpayer-funded giveaway to the Democrat-beholden unions “has nothing to do with the pandemic.” Moreover, they report, the failure “predated the pandemic and is a result of fading unions, serial bankruptcies and the misplaced hope that investment income would foot most of the bill so that employers and workers wouldn’t have to.”

As the Times continues, “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.”

No wonder it was “the best day” of Sherrod Brown’s Senate career.

Perhaps even worse than the bailout of these pensions is the failure to address the structural flaws of the plans themselves. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley introduced his own proposal to fix the failing plans going forward rather than, as he put it, giving the Democrats a blank check.

“Not only is their plan totally unrelated to the pandemic,” said Grassley in a news release, “but it also does nothing to address the root cause of the problem. Without a plan like the one I’m proposing, taxpayers will be on the hook for another bailout down the road.”

All too predictably, Grassley’s motion failed along party lines, 49 to 50. (Alaska Republican Dan Sullivan was absent due to a family funeral.)

But, hey, at least Sherrod Brown had his best day ever.

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