March 11, 2021
185 Pension Plans Saved in Covid Rescue Bill
Butch-Lewis Expedition Finally Reaches Promised Land!
And, Biden DOL Dumps the Trump ESG-ETI Rule
Kristen Estell, Heartland Capital Strategies

In our political climate-- with a bill as large and complex as the Covid relief bill President Biden hopes to sign Friday--there are bound to be disagreements about who should be rescued and by how much. Yet, in 2008-2009, after Wall Street banks and hedge funds destroyed the economy, leading to the loss of $4 trillion in workers’ pensions, there was bi-partisan support for baling out those same banks. No questions asked. 

One point that would seem to be a given, is that workers-- especially blue collar workers--who have paid into their pension plans for their whole career should be able to retire comfortably. This is, after all, the much sought after demographic that it seems both political parties should be tripping over each other to support.
But a quick review of headlines from this Covid bill relief show something else:
Rescue Package Includes $86 Billion Bailout for Failing Pensions: Democrats pushed through a big aid measure for multiemployer pensions whose problems predate the pandemic.” (New York Times)
The stimulus includes money to help 10.7 million pension plans. Republicans don't see how that's pandemic aid.” (Business Insider)
The Covid Spend-O-Rama’s Multiemployer Pension Bailouts: Some Disappointed First Impressions” (Forbes)
One would think, looking at these headlines, that saving pensions is something that will hurt American taxpayers, but Democrats are doing it because it's just good politics. In fact, saving pensions is a way to save state and local governments money, it supports local economies (see article below), and it’s good politics. 
Some object to this rescue because this pension problem predates Covid, which is true. But just like every other inequality and problem in this country, the Covid related economic crisis has made it worse. Now there are fewer employed workers paying into these pension funds, and already tight government budgets are stretched thin by the loss of tax revenue.
This isn’t news to Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, who has been fighting to save pensions for years. Brown called Senate passage of President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID spending package “the best day of my Senate life” because it rescues 185 union pension plans.

Read details in the Expresso below for how these pensions will be saved and more on how elections matter, as Biden is impacting not just certain pensioners but all investors hoping for responsible investments, payouts they can count on, and forward-looking government oversite of the market.
Democrats’ Coronavirus Relief Plan Could Save The Pensions Of 1 Million People
A politically elusive fix to the multiemployer pension crisis could finally become a reality, protecting retirees from drastic pension cuts.
Dave Jamieson,Huffpost

Retirement experts have been warning for years that more than 1 million workers and retirees could lose their pensions if Congress doesn’t act. Now help from Washington might finally arrive, thanks to an unlikely legislative opening provided by the pandemic.

Congressional Democrats are moving a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan through a process known as budget reconciliation, hoping to send it to President Joe Biden’s desk this month. A proposal to shore up troubled pension plans and the federal agency that insures them may end up hitching a ride on that
package, saving retirees from having their pensions cut.

Unions and their Democratic allies have fought for several years to pass such a pension fix, but were blocked by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) when he was Senate majority leader. (McConnell and Republicans passed a narrower, bipartisan bill that safeguarded the pensions of coal miners.) Now, however, Democrats control the House and have the barest of majorities in the Senate, with 50 seats and Vice President Kamala Harris available to cast a tie-breaking vote. [READ MORE]