Howard Dean yesterday opened a large, suppurating wound on El Presidente's broad, unprotected flank. Dean accused the president of failing to protect private pensions in the United States. He cited Labor Department statistics estimating that private companies underfunded their pension plans by $450 billion last year. He suggested that Bush is responsible for the failure of private industry to protect those pensions: "The president wants to take away our Social Security," he said, "and then he's going to take away the private pension plans, too? What does he think ordinary Americans live on after they get to be 65 years old?"
Dean suggested that pensions ought to be portable. Pension plans "ought not to be controlled by companies, they ought to be controlled by the people who those pensions belong to," he said.
To wit ... a federal bankruptcy judge allowed United Airlines to terminate four pension plans earlier in May ... and it's George Bush's fault? You bet your sweet bippie it is! And Virginia Foxx's fault too.
MeanDean has hit on a supremely important issue: "...retirement in general looks a lot less secure today," said Olivia S. Mitchell, executive director of the Pension Research Council and a business professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. "My advice to my students is don't quit working .... These are bad times to get old."
The Republican Party ... bad for old people.
Take a look at what El Presidente's fat-cat backers are doing to the rest of us: "From 1986 to 2004, roughly 101,000 companies nationwide terminated defined-benefit [pension] plans covering about 7.5 million workers, according to the federal Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp., or PBGC. About 99,000 of those plans had enough assets to buy annuities that covered all benefits earned by workers and retirees. But in the remaining 2,000 cases, companies with underfunded pensions shifted their obligations to the PBGC, created as a last resort to meet the pension obligations of bankrupt companies. As a result, the PBGC is itself now underfunded by roughly $23.3 billion."
And who does El Presidente want to put in charge of the Securities and Exchange Commission but Congressman Chris Cox, who is guaranteed to let business regulation slide for the next three years.
You go, MeanDean!