In what he calls an effort to preserve the nation's traditional pension system, a leading House Republican plans to push for legislation that requires companies to keep their pension plans fully funded, encourages them to put in more money, even in boom times, and removes the legal uncertainty surrounding cash balance plans.
Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, is scheduled to outline in a speech today principles for "comprehensive reforms to strengthen our worker pension system and ensure that workers can count on the benefits they've been promised."
It is unlikely that any action will be taken in this session of Congress, but lawmakers have set a deadline of the end of next year for working out a deal.
The chairman is set to acknowledge that "there is much work ahead of us to find long-term solutions to our pension problems" and that actual legislation has not yet been written. But, according to the text of his remarks to be delivered at a pension forum at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, he will lay out a set of principles that should guide the eventual bill.
These include transparency so workers can gauge the state of their pension plans, changes in rules to ensure full and consistent funding of plans by employers, barriers to employers making promises they can't afford, and a technical change in the way pension liabilities are figured so the calculations are consistent and accurate.
The Bush administration has called for comprehensive pension changes, though its proposals have so far been limited to transparency and liability calculation rules.