mead berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn bayles
post-blue
GOP Axes Blue State Retirement Plans

Healthcare isn’t the only Obama-era social policy that Congressional Republicans started to roll back this week. The Senate took aim at a Labor Department rule green-lighting publicly-run retirement programs enacted by blue states like California, Oregon, and Illinois. Bloomberg reports:

The Senate approved a resolution killing an Obama-era Department of Labor rule that allows states to require some private-sector employers to help their workers save for retirement. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the resolution, approved May 3 by a 50-49 vote, that effectively overturns the agency’s rules that exempt such state retirement plan programs from coverage under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The resolution already passed the House and a similar resolution repealing city-run retirement plan programs already carries Trump’s signature.

Most of the press coverage around this issue has been contemptuous of the GOP position, suggesting that it reflects the party’s heartlessness and deference to Wall Street lobbyists. And while special interests surely played a role (as they do in every piece of legislation) there is actually a strong case against the Labor Department rule based on the public interest.

Without proper federal oversight, state-run plans in places like California could take advantage of workers and mismanage their money. The Obama Administration essentially exempted these plans from the federal accounting standards that exist for privately-run retirement plans like 401(k)s. The way states like California have run their public employee pension programs into the ground does not inspire confidence in their ability to manage workers’ nest eggs in a lax regulatory environment.

That said, for all their flaws, blue state efforts to encourage people to save more aggressively for retirement represent earnest attempts to address a pressing problem. As with Obamacare, the GOP is alert to the problems with the liberal approach—but it’s unclear if it has a positive plan of its own. It’s not enough for Republicans to put pressure on the Democratic state-run plans; they also need to develop their own comprehensive approach for addressing the crisis of retirement saving that has accompanied the collapse of the blue model. The good news is that based on what we have heard from the Hill, some lawmakers in both parties are thinking along these lines.

Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • FriendlyGoat

    Let us know when a GOP alternative designed for anyone other than the already-wealthy becomes less “unclear”.

    • ——————————

      Come on FG, it’s not that bad.

      Maybe go out and pet one of your goats for a while to calm down…….

      • FriendlyGoat

        I am seriously on the way out to feed and pet the goats right now. The GOP ideas for more retirement security among poorer people will take longer. Goats say “hi”—–

        • ——————————

          I’ll bet you damn near petted the skin off of those goats yesterday during the vote count…

          • FriendlyGoat

            Nah, I was out to lunch with my wife, got home after it was over. Looks to me like absolutely nothing has happened other than Senate now looking to rework whole thing.

            Thanks for mentioning the goats. I know you’re trying to be light-hearted and that’s nice.
            Ours are small—–three pygmy females and one slightly-insane mixed breed male (“fixed”, thank heavens). They are great therapy and delightful company in the shade of a tree. Political matters, though important, are abstract in a goat pen. A trusting pet’s face about 24 inches off of one’s nose is reality in the here and now.

          • Anthony

            Something for you (pardon the interruption): theweek.com/articles/696637/how-americanas-faithless-president-became-defender-christian-faithful

          • FriendlyGoat

            Thanks. I think some of the church leaders are now barely starting to realize that the Johnson Amendment afforded them “some” freedom FROM politics—-meaning they could be “a little” political (some more than others) but that they always had an excuse for not letting it become so overt as to damage the church business model. It’s my understanding that some 4500 of them recently sent letter to Trump urging no repeal of the Johnson Amendment.

            I have always been convinced that attempts at collective political leanings could destroy the spirituality of a church. But, if they notice it might damage the BUSINESS MODEL too, well, that might provoke a debate on their own side, no?

          • Anthony

            Good point! And I take your implication to be business (capitalism) Trumps (I couldn’t pass it up) deliverance (spirituality).

          • FriendlyGoat

            I really don’t mean “business model” with a ton of disrespect for the process. The fact is, churches have to hold up membership and cover expenses—–some of which are huge because of past growth. Anything that makes people fall out is not good. If they have sense, the real church leaders may be more concerned about this than the Ralph Reed activist types.

          • Anthony

            I understand and perhaps I had been too impish in reply. Forgive my human lapse. And yes, holding both membership steady and meeting associated expenses are always pressing indefatigable church leaders.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Impish? You? By comparison to our environment here? Uh, hardly.

          • Anthony

            Thanks ,FG, you truly know how to “lift” the spirit!

          • Anthony

            Here’s something that was asked of me this morning: if character no longer counts, or at least is no longer definitive, then what does count? What criteria should determine a Christian’s attitude toward a political candidate? Now, reflect on both questions and give me your sense of an appropriate response to both questions.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I will try, but may take a while, OK?

          • Anthony

            Take as long as needed!

          • FriendlyGoat

            One of surprises last November with the 81% Evangelical vote for Trump was that there were no characteristics about Trump which “bothered” those 81%—–at least not enough to believe he should not be president. While ink and paper factories have probably been built to furnish the supplies necessary for their many disclaimers—–“had no choice, lesser of two evils, held their noses”, etc.——the fact is, the most conservative Christians proved that they simply do not care whether they support truth spoken on political matters or not. This was a shock to the commentators who assumed too many aspects of the Trump campaign rhetoric were beyond the pale for the church folks. Uh, nope. They bought ’em all.

            So, after thinking about your questions, I’m going to skate out in a short take. We need to define “Christians” and we need to define “character”. But——that’s too hard even for philosophers. So, boiling down to one quirky and tangential “either/or” that is in our news within the last week, I’ll just step out and opine that those church folks (or candidates for any office) who call Senator Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” at this time or approve of their president doing so (as president last week), are problematic as Christians and useless as judges of character. We have a lot of these people, they are as spiritually blind as bats and they would not be interested in any advice from me on how a Christian should form a political opinion.

            For me, I want to hear respect for others, balance, empathy, honest admissions of purported merits of BOTH sides of each issue. I think all Christians should want to hear those things from candidates. Some do. Most of the Evangelicals don’t. I thought the eighties with Reagan were bad in this respect. Thirty-five years have gone by and our collective “maturity” in discourse has gone completely down a sinkhole. Why didn’t church fix that instead of arguably making it worse? Beats me.

          • Anthony

            Thanks. Still, I think standards matter, religious or secular. Have we at some level replaced the public assessment of virtue with the private judgment of pastors. Your last two sentences infer consequences for both our social order and political culture. I’ll end with this (as I defer here to both your experience and consistent spiritual life); if character doesn’t count, then what does – pragmatism (unawares, perhaps, that we may be cautiously and metaphorically giving dogs what is sacred and casting pearls to swine)?

          • FriendlyGoat

            Character absolutely counts (or counted). I think we are now suffering from lack of a majority consensus on what character is. For instance, we either have millions of “illegal votes” or we don’t. If we do, the people of character can find them and show them to the rest of us. It we can assemble a majority claiming they exist when they don’t, we’ve got a character problem in that majority. I think the same people who approve of “Pocahontas” are willing to insist we have millions of illegal votes in our elections.

          • Anthony

            “Insisting otherwise all day long” – what I believe (faith), what my politics conforms (party), then my country, finally facts – gets to core of it. Yes, there exists a problem (as most of us know). Now, how and where do we begin addressing (not solving) the problem (s) – to understand our inadequacies by looking at them in light of what they keep us from being more than what they make us do may be a beginning.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Indeed, there is a LOT to be found in your last sentence.

          • ——————————

            Well that’s a good way to look at it. Your an island of levelheadedness in the sea of leftism. I tried to reason with another on here, but he went full-lefty on me.
            I believe it will get reworked and then passed by the senate, and then the Dems and Repubs will spend the next many years tweaking and refining it.

            Anyway, goats seem like a pretty cool pet from what I have seen about them on TV.
            I got the acres, but unfortunately I don’t have the time for pets…except for the small dog my wife made me get….

          • FriendlyGoat

            So—–pet the small dog!

          • ——————————

            I’ll do it right now!

  • RedWell

    Agreed. This type of thing may be Republicans’ biggest domestic problem since gaining full control of the government: so far, nearly everything they do is negative, as if they were still in opposition. Clearly, the Dems created some unsustainable policies, but what is the GOP’s alternative? You can’t run on the fumes and assumptions of the Reagan era because the US economy and US demographics have changed.

    For me, in any case, that also raises my beef with the GOP. Specifically, what have they been doing for the last decade or more except frantically trying to oppose “liberals” and get into office? Now that they have everything, they are able to do nothing because their ideology and vision have been hollowed out.

    • Jim__L

      Well, supporting families and children (especially by pursuing policies that assumed that the two were near-synonymous) would be a great start in cleaning up the demographics and economic problems.

      Of course, that would mean rebuilding American society after the damage done by the entire Leftist social agenda of the last 50 years. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

    • Anthony

      Something for you (Yuval Levin always aids): https://home.isi.org/conservatism-age-alienation

      • RedWell

        It’s a good article. Thanks for sharing. Sadly, I’m afraid I don’t come away from it any more encouraged.

        After all, the conservative intellectual movement of the 20th century is starting to look more and more like an interesting bit of intellectual history. For instance, of the many intelligent and hard working conservatives I know, absolutely none of them will read or have read this. They will just turn on Hannity.

        I am also troubled by this wide-spread assumption, which Levin takes as fact, that progressives have undermined the family and the core of American culture. Kind of. But that is also an old argument among Boomers. More to the point, the scholarship on this kind of thing is mixed.

        I could go on, but my point is something Levin himself points out:

        “It is imperative, in other words, that
        those (generally young) men and women who seek after edifying alternatives find
        not despairing Cassandras in hysterical panic but rather winsome, welcoming
        teachers and guides—pastors, mentors, and instructors who hold out as alluring
        not a sharp break from all that came before but a pass to a rich heritage in
        religious wisdom, liberal learning, and philosophical truth. Today’s
        conservative intellectuals found such guides, in many cases at a time when
        despair would have been even more understandable than it is now. The next
        generation should too.”

        That is not happening. Like the left, what the right has is a lot of ideologues, radicals and activists. I think this is partly because those conservative intellectuals did not build as durable and sound a foundation as they imagine. That evocative chain of being that Levin is invoking gets filtered by American conservative thought into a deployable ideology. That is, in some ways, the very opposite of conservative values. What we have ended up with is some alchemy of nationalism, religious intuitions, and business interests.

        It
        is imperative, in other words, that those (generally young) men and
        women who seek after edifying alternatives find not despairing
        Cassandras in hysterical panic but rather winsome, welcoming teachers
        and guides—pastors, mentors, and instructors who hold out as alluring
        not a sharp break from all that came before but a pass to a rich
        heritage in religious wisdom, liberal learning, and philosophical truth.
        Today’s conservative intellectuals found such guides, in many cases at a
        time when despair would have been even more understandable than it is
        now. The next generation should too. – See more at:
        https://home.isi.org/conservatism-age-alienation#sthash.lqne5W6k.dpuf
        It
        is imperative, in other words, that those (generally young) men and
        women who seek after edifying alternatives find not despairing
        Cassandras in hysterical panic but rather winsome, welcoming teachers
        and guides—pastors, mentors, and instructors who hold out as alluring
        not a sharp break from all that came before but a pass to a rich
        heritage in religious wisdom, liberal learning, and philosophical truth.
        Today’s conservative intellectuals found such guides, in many cases at a
        time when despair would have been even more understandable than it is
        now. The next generation should too. Giving in to despair would deny
        those in search of such guidance what they require. – See more at:
        https://home.isi.org/conservatism-age-alienation#sthash.lqne5W6k.dpuf
        It
        is imperative, in other words, that those (generally young) men and
        women who seek after edifying alternatives find not despairing
        Cassandras in hysterical panic but rather winsome, welcoming teachers
        and guides—pastors, mentors, and instructors who hold out as alluring
        not a sharp break from all that came before but a pass to a rich
        heritage in religious wisdom, liberal learning, and philosophical truth.
        Today’s conservative intellectuals found such guides, in many cases at a
        time when despair would have been even more understandable than it is
        now. The next generation should too. Giving in to despair would deny
        those in search of such guidance what they require. – See more at:
        https://home.isi.org/conservatism-age-alienation#sthash.lqne5W6k.dpuf

        • Anthony

          You’re welcome and I’m glad article was of some service. Additionally, I agree that Levin and too many others assume as fact that progressives (whatever that means at moment) have unilaterally undermined families and core American culture. I think that attitude can be ascribed to the same bubble (ideological) thinking he and others excoriate liberals for.

          And yes, fewer Cassandras and more edifying alternatives (for young men and women, especially) are what’s needed and perhaps it begins here: winsome, welcoming teachers and guides. Furthermore, most key, I think, is to understand our inadequacies by looking at them in light of what they keep us from being more than what they make us into.

  • Andrew Allison

    As TAI has noted in the past, State-run pension plans have a terrible track record. Non-government investing in a State run plan will inevitably find their accounts being shared by retired government employees when the plans go broke. Perhaps the outrage on the part of Blue States results from the terrifying prospect of their pension plans becoming subject to ERISA. Anybody, including government employees, who is relying on a non-ERISA pension plan is playing with fire.

  • Angel Martin

    This Canadian real estate bubble shadowbank mini-scandal is a good example of what happens when crony capitalism meets public sector pensions.

    Short summary: Home capital is a Toronto mortgage lender in Canada. They had a run on deposits and made up the shortfall with a $2 billion loan (15% effective interest rate!) from the Ontario Health Workers Pension Plan.

    The head of the union pension fund was a shareholder and was on the Board of Home Capital. A Home Capital executive was on the Board of the pension fund.

    http://www.bnn.ca/home-capital-secures-loan-and-hires-rbc-bmo-for-strategic-plan-1.736262

    “Blue” controlled financial entities are, if possible, more risky than the standard Wall Street crooks. Since they are public sector or gov’t mandated, they tend to be larger. And the “blue” entities have political goals in addition to simple greed, and the additional political goals add an additional constraint for even larger mistakes.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    America should payoff all foreign held US Treasuries (~$6+ Trillion, accumulated by currency cheating countries), and add that to the $3 Trillion already held by the Fed from “Quantitative Easing”, and create individual tradeable inheritable Social Security Accounts for every naturally born American (immigrants should be required to fund their own SS Accounts) of about $30,000 per citizen.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service