Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has used the promise of coronavirus relief for political gain at the expense of the working class. For months, the Democrats have refused to negotiate in good faith with Republicans, preferring to deny the Trump Administration a political victory that might have helped Trump’s reelection efforts. Instead the Democrats repeatedly offered relief with ridiculous awards for their special interests, fully aware the Republicans and GOP would never agree to their terms. Working class interests were merely collateral damage for partisan actors engaged in a cat and mouse game.
The election is over and political games to hurt President Trump are less useful for Pelosi who recently admitted about the relief negotiations, “What was then before was not more than this. This has simplicity. It’s what we’ve had in our bills,” Pelosi said, defending her position. “It’s for a shorter period of time but that’s ok now because we have a new president.”
While the fate of the 2020 presidency is undetermined, Republican gains in the House of Representatives are not. GOP victories in Congress signal a rejection of the corporatism and progressivism now championed by the Democrat Party. Defunding the police and fetishizing systemic racism do nothing for working Americans wiped out by government-mandated coronavirus shutdowns. Republicans have an opportunity to grow their support and to do so they must get serious about prioritizing working class interests.
Rep. Elise Stefanik along with other Republicans have sent a letter to House and Senate leadership requesting assistance to at-risk multiemployer pension plans in the proposed coronavirus relief package. Stefanik’s letter explains that multiemployer pension plans across the nation are facing significant and debilitating funding shortfalls, putting the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) on the path towards insolvency within the decade. This pension shortfall impacts working class Americans.
“Many pension plans are facing dire funding shortfalls and the federal backstop that insures these plans will soon run dry, putting workers’ livelihood and retirement at risk in the North Country and nationwide. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to exacerbate these shortfalls, so a failure to address this issue now will only create deeper problems in the years to come,” writes Stefanik. The “leadership (should) find common ground on a bipartisan solution to this crisis and prevent retirees’ from losing their hard-earned pensions, while making structural improvements to shore up the multiemployer pension system.”
A multi-employer retirement plan is a retirement plan dependent on investment funds and the ability of a sponsor to contribute. The Pension Benefits Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) defines these plans as “a collectively bargained plan maintained by more than one employer, usually within the same or related industries, and a labor union.” The backbone of the coronavirus economy are the very people who are covered in retirement by these plans with about 1,400 plans, including about 10 million participants. Think about miners, manufacturers, service industries, retail employees and truckers who are all keeping food delivered and our economy running.
Some Senators understand the importance of advocating for the working class American. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) astutely points out, “Today’s Dems are the party of the rich. GOP is and should be the party of the working class.” Senator Marco Rubio has also come to a similar conclusion. “After the 2020 election, Republicans need to rebrand their party as the champions of working-class voters and steer away from its traditional embrace of big business,” Rubio said in an interview with Axios. “The future of the party is based on a multiethnic, multiracial working class coalition.” Other Senators like Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who have constituencies effected by a pension shortfall are leading the fight:
So those workers who are expecting to have a benefit because they’re still working and those retirees who are facing these cuts are looking to us to find a bipartisan solution to address this crisis that faces the multiemployer pension system and the PBGC. They are counting us to put in place common-sense reforms to ensure that the hard-earned pension benefits will be there for workers and retirees during their retirement. A lot of these workers will tell you, they didn’t take the pay increases or they didn’t take the health care benefits as high as they wanted in their collective bargaining because they bargained for this. Which was the hope of having a pension. A guaranteed defined benefit pension. And now they’re seeing the possibility that that could result in a 90 percent cut in their benefits.
Now that the election is over, it’s time to get down to the business of running the country. The GOP Senate must stand strong with their allies in the House to fight the Democrats to get relief for working class Americans. Elected officials must do their job and protect the interests of the American people.