Politics and Pensions

The Republican and Democratic National Conventions have been a study in dramatic contrasts. Take retirement security as an example.

The Democratic Party platform contained a clear call to protect and expand pensions:

“Democrats believe it should be easier for Americans to save for retirement and prepare for unforeseen risks and expenses. We will defend the right of workers to collect their defined benefit pensions and make sure workers get priority and protection when pension plans are in distress. Democrats will also fight to enact legislation to make sure that the earned pension benefits of Americans will not be cut…”

The platform also called for protecting and expanding Social Security, the most successful governmental program in history.

The Republican Party platform was largely silent on the critical issue of retirement security, aside from disparaging remarks about the benefits of federal government employees and calls to make radical changes to Social Security.
Donald Trump and Mike Pence give reason to be concerned when it comes to working families and their retirement.

As CEO of Trump Enterprises, he offered the stingiest 401(k) allowed by law and made no contributions to his employees’ 401(k)s for three years. He has also waffled on whether he supports raising the retirement age for Social Security.

While Trump has said little directly about public pensions, his running mate’s record on pensions is terrible. Indiana’s public pensions have faced continuous attacks for several years now and Mike Pence has supported those attacks, including an effort to privatize public pensions.

The prominent place of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at the Republican convention was troublesome. Christie is arguably the most anti-public pension governor in America. If Donald Trump is taking advice about public pensions from Chris Christie, who described a state police union leader as a “pension pig,” then working families are right to be concerned about their retirement security.

Retirement security is an issue that often goes unaddressed in the presidential campaign. As we approach the high-stakes Nov. 8 election, and all the heated rhetoric that goes with it, remember which candidates and which parties are willing to put this issue front and center and articulate the steps they would take to ensure a secure and dignified retirement for workers.