Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Government automakers pension plans underfunded by $17 billion

A report issued by the Government Accountability Office on Tuesday reveals that the pension plans of General Motors and Chrysler are underfunded by $17 billion and in danger of failure:
Both companies need to make large payments into the plans within the next five years — $12.3 billion by G.M. and $2.6 billion by Chrysler — to reach minimum funding levels, according to the report, prepared by the Government Accountability Office. Whether the companies will be able to make the payments is uncertain, the report concluded, though Treasury officials expect the automakers will become profitable enough to do so.

If either company’s plan must be terminated, the government would become liable for paying benefits to hundreds of thousands of retirees. The effect on the government’s pension insurer, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, would be “unprecedented,” the report said. The agency manages plans with assets totaling $68.7 billion, less than the $84.5 billion in G.M.’s plan alone. (emphasis added)
In the interest of accuracy and clarity, let's replace the phrase "hundreds of thousands" of retirees with "almost a million."  From the Associated Press:
GM has roughly 702,000 people covered under its pension plans for hourly and salaried employees. Chrysler's collection of plans covers about 254,000 retirees and employees.
Where is the taxpayer's liability for the benefits of an additional and unexpected one million retirees accounted for in the federal budget?  I'm certain the Democratic leadership will call it an "emergency" and just print more money.  In the not too distant past, "emergency funding" evoked images of earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, acts of war.  Today the definition has been expanded to include anything the Democrats deem expedient.

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