August 5, 2013


A Plan to Avert the Pension Crisis (RICHARD J. RIORDAN and TIM RUTTEN, August 4, 2013, NY Times)

President Obama should propose, and push Congress to establish, a public employee pension reform program, similar to a plan proposed by the economist Joshua D. Rauh, now a professor of finance at Stanford's business school and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

In our version of the plan, the program would essentially serve as an insurance agency. It would not bail out distressed local retirement plans. Instead, cities, and perhaps states, would be permitted to sell bonds to cover their pension liabilities, with the federal government guaranteeing repayment. Participants would pay fees -- a kind of insurance premium -- to finance the program, so there would be no net cost to Washington. The program would give cities access to low-cost, long-term capital. But in exchange for what would amount to federal bond insurance, the cities would have to agree to certain reforms of their pension and health care programs for current and former workers. At a minimum, those reforms should include a single national standard for projecting returns on pension investments -- remarkably, there isn't one -- and negotiated reductions in current benefits.

And participating polities should be required to convert to defined contribution systems.

Posted by at August 5, 2013 5:21 AM

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