WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders today announced that if elected president, he will institute an immediate moratorium on cuts to pension benefits that are overseen by the federal government. In a speech to the International Association of Machinists, Sanders said that he will appoint a Treasury secretary who will stop approving such cuts, and he will push to pass his existing legislation to permanently block those kind of cuts in the future.
“Five years ago, behind closed doors, and against my strong opposition, a provision was slipped into a must-pass spending bill that now makes it legal to cut the pension benefits of millions of workers and retirees in multi-employer pension plans,” Sanders said. “If we could find over a trillion dollars to bail out the crooks on Wall Street ten years ago, we can damn well afford to protect the pensions of Americans who have earned those benefits.”
Sanders was referring to Congress in 2014 passing a new law empowering the Treasury Department to approve large cuts to financially distressed multiemployer pension plans. Sanders voted against the bill that included the pension legislation.
Prior to the new law, it was illegal to slash the pension benefits that were promised to workers. The 2014 legislation empowers the federal government to approve cuts of up to 30 percent or more to those benefits.
More than 520,000 workers and retirees have seen the new law invoked to try to reduce retirement benefits, according to the Pension Rights Center. Teamsters members and UPS workers have sued to try to prevent the Trump administration from slashing those benefits.