The Post exaggerates problems with defined-benefit pension plans that employers provide voluntarily for 44 million American retirees and workers ["Government's Disgrace," editorial, Oct.17]. Of the more than 31,000 such plans, 42 percent are better than 100 percent-funded and only 15 percent are funded at less than 70 percent.
Simply put, the pension sky is not falling, and it's irresponsible to condemn those in the business community and Congress who are working to keep reform legislation from doing more harm than good.
Though the editorial contended that amendments offered by Sens. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) dilute the pending pension bills, the substance of these amendments is ignored. The senators are right to fight against a provision basing pension funding obligations on a company's credit rating rather than on the plan's assets and liabilities. The Congressional Budget Office has warned that this provision would increase the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.'s liabilities by $18 billion over 10 years because onerous new costs would force some employers to give up their plans.
If the goal of pension reform legislation is to encourage employers to maintain their pension plans, unreasonable new obligations won't help.
National Association of Manufacturers
An Oct. 5 editorial, "Pensions Endgame," asserted that the airline industry seeks special treatment to allow it to make good on pension promises.
However, a primary consideration is to prevent pensions from being dumped on the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. Ironically, the needlessly burdensome pension rules, as well as the Bush administration's proposed changes to them, greatly increase the probability of airline failures, which will result in the pension disaster we all want to prevent.
Airlines are handicapped by financial burdens such as security costs, administration policies that tax airline travel more highly than alcohol or tobacco, and the lack of a national energy policy to bring fuel prices under control.
The government's outdated pension policies have generated a crisis for thousands of airline employees. The pension shortfall is punishing people who have given billions in concessions to help their companies survive.
Congress is right to help airlines fulfill pension promises when the administration has failed even to express regret for what workers have lost, let alone implement needed reforms.
DUANE E. WOERTH
Air Line Pilots Association