Will Ron Johnson Stand Up for Retirees?
Democratic bill protects state workers covered by troubled Central States Pension Fund. Will Johnson support it?
A politician is defined by promises to voters. In 2016, Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson made three pledges to state voters (Baraboo News Republic): Johnson said he would not run for a third term if reelected (since backpedaled); emphasized that he was running on “retirement security” and declared he would “move bipartisan bills”. The time has come.
Johnson has indicated sympathy for Wisconsin retirees covered by troubled multiemployer pension funds, including the Central States Pension Fund. “The situation has been brewing since the 2008 financial crisis, as investments plummeted, leaving many plans in the red. The slow economic recovery and recent stock market rally (2017-2018) have not been sufficient to reinvigorate the plans, which are jointly funded by labor unions and employers …” (New York Times).
The Washington Post reported: “There are more than 1 million Americans (includes 25,000 Wisconsinites) who participate in severely distressed multiemployer pensions and another 9 million who are in healthier programs that could be affected by changes”. Johnson has spoken with state retirees, tweeted, issued a letter and press release. He said: “I’ve met with and heard from many of my constituents who are deeply concerned about the dismal state of the multiemployer pension system… . They’re asking for a transparent process and a fair outcome”. A solution is now on the table.
New York GOP Representative Peter King tweeted: “As lead Republican sponsor of the Butch Lewis Act (H.R.397) to protect multiemployer pension funds I was proud to speak in support of this legislation in support of working men and women … . Solid victory for America’s middle income families.” Unlike Duffy, the other Wisconsin GOP representatives voted no. Most perplexing: Green Bay GOP Representative Mike Gallagher’s supporting Trump’s buying Greenland, but declining to help Wisconsin retirees.
However, Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin is a lead sponsor, with 28 other senators, of S.2254 – Butch Lewis Act of 2019. Baldwin said: “Now that the Butch Lewis Act has cleared the House with bipartisan support, Mitch McConnell (GOP Senate Majority Leader) should immediately bring it up for a vote in the Senate so we can get the job done protecting the pensions that these workers and retirees have earned.” And, Kenny Stribling, Co-Chair, Milwaukee Committee to Protect Pensions, pleaded: “This is not a partisan issue. This is an issue of fairness… .”
Senator Johnson must stand-up for retirees and support the Butch Lewis Act.
This column was originally published by Wispolitics.com