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What's In Your Wallet?
The answer to this question may be nothing based on a couple of recent reports. The first report is by GAO on multiemployer pension plans. This GAO Report euphemistically concluded that "long-term prospects of the multiemployer system face a number of challenges." Multiemployer pension plans are created by collective bargaining agreements covering more than one employer, and are generally operated under the joint trusteeship of labor and management. They provide coverage to over 9.7 million of the 44 million participants insured by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, which estimates "that underfunded multiemployer plans now face an aggregate unfunded liability of $100 billion, up from $ 21 billion in 2000." In addition, PBGC "reported an accumulated net deficit of $ 261 million for its multiemployer program in 2003, the first since 1981."

The news is even worse for single employer pension plans: i.e., those sponsored by single firms. The GAO's multiemployer report explains that it was prompted by "serious difficulties experienced by these single-employer plans...." Specifically, recent termination of several large single-employer plans "led to millions of dollars in benefit losses for thousands of workers and left PBGC , their public insurer, an $11.2 billion deficit as of September 30, 2003."

The second report is the Social Security Trustees 2004 Annual Report on the status of the trust funds. The 2004 Report concludes that the Social Security Program can pay full benefits until 2018. The rest of the news is very bad. For example, unless Congress does something soon (an unlikely proposition) any worker born after 1975 will pay full Social Security taxes throughout their careers but will receive 73 % - or less - of their promised benefits. They will also have to somehow pay in $ 5 billion in additional general taxes (in 2004 dollars) to make up the trust fund deficit between already promised benefits and projected funds.

Winston can't vote because the US Constitution discriminates against dogs and other non-human species. However, if he were human Winston would seriously consider voting for the candidate who acknowledges the huge problems in this county's retirement funding system; commits to solving the problems; admits that there are no "good" solutions; and actually proposes a solution he or she believes to be the best of all the unavoidably bad alternatives available.

  • Click for GAO Multiemployer Pension plan Report.
  • Click for 2004 Social Security Report.
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