Encouraging a (Unionized, Government-Dependent) Middle Class

By April 19, 2010Labor Unions

Mark Hemingway, Washington Examiner, “Big Labor’s ‘Middle Class’ Task Force“:

In February, the Obama administration released the “Annual Report of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class.” But under the guise of the report’s benign title, the White House’s Middle Class Task Force is nothing but a shibboleth for instituting a number of expensive pro-union regulatory reforms — one of which could be using your retirement savings to bail out Social Security.

The section of the report devoted to “Protecting Workers and Creating Middle-Class Jobs” reads like organized labor’s policy wish list. It pushes expensive “high road” federal contracting, plans for project labor agreements, enforcing labor standards, a “National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force” and, most perniciously, “retirement security.”

Social Security is bankrupt and the average union pension plan only covers 62 percent of its liabilities, well below the 65 percent threshold at which the government considers the plan “endangered.” Given these facts, the Economic Policy Institute has teamed up with two of the most powerful unions in the country — the AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union — to push something called “Retirement USA” (visit Retirement-USA.org).

Retirement USA looks like a scheme to prop up trillions of dollars worth of failing pension plans by seizing your personal savings. It would create a universal retirement plan for all Americans that centralizes all existing retirement plans — including your personal 401(k) savings and private pension plans — into the same retirement system.

Hemingway  is one of the few reporters/columnists to pay attention to the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, chaired by Vice President Joe Biden. It appears the task force was formed to reach pre-determined recommendations meant to reinforce organized labor. Who else would answer the question, “What can we do to improve the status of the middle class?” with the response, “Project Labor Agreements!“? Another recommendation: Enact the Employee Free Choice Act.

In related analysis, the Gerson Lehrman Group reports, “Congress Seeks to Rescue Underfunded Union Multiemployer Pension Plans“:

Moody’s estimates that large union multiemployer pension plans are underfunded by $165 billion. House and Senate bills seek to allow the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation to assume responsibility for these plans, taking certain employers and unions off the hook at a cost of billions of dollars to US taxpayers. This would discourage these plans from fixing their problems on their own by raising retirement ages and contribution levels and lowering benefits. Watch for a union bailout this fall.

For the children middle class!

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