To the Editor:
I am writing in response to Sen. Charles Schumer’s Op-Ed from the New York Times, published in the July 25 edition of the Post Standard. I think it is very commendable that the senator, and the Democratic Party, are concerned about the struggles of the working middle class. It does seem like we have taken a back seat to the wealthy, and the special interests.
A good place to start might be with the concerns of the people who managed to hold on to a career for 30 or 40 years, despite the ups and downs of the economy. We thought we made it. Then came the passing of the Multi-employer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA). We are now starting to see the fallout from this.
Failing pension plans are asking to be allowed to cut benefits that were promised. Some have already done so. Many more will probably follow. The New York State Teamsters Pension and Retirement Fund has proposed a benefit reduction of about twenty nine percent. Funds that go insolvent are backed up by the Federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., at much lower amounts. I understand that agency is underfunded also. Two proposals that might have helped avert this crisis, got little or no support in Washington. The Keep Our Pensions Act sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Marcy Kaptur, and the Pension Accountability Act, offered by Sen. Rob Portman and Reps. David Joyce and Tim Ryan, didn’t seem to get much traction. I do not believe the proposed cuts will save these pension funds. I think the only way this can be resolved, is with help from the Federal Government. How can the American people have any faith, that things will be better in the future, if we continue to go backward?
How can employees paying into these pension plans now, have any faith that there will something there for them, when they are ready to retire? Sen. Schumer says that because the Democrats are in the minority in both houses of Congress, their priorities might not be the most important issues. I think this should be a bi-partisan concern. I wrote letters to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Rep. Katko in February of 2016, about these issues. The only one who responded with a reply, was Rep. Katko. Senator Schumer, you say you want to rally the American people, to support the Democratic party’s ideas. Consider me rallied. Now, if only we can rally the politicians in Washington.
So, on behalf of working and retired middle class Americans, I can’t wait to see what the Democrats have in store for us, going forward. I only hope it’s not too late for some.
Michael J. Fabisiak
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