July 10, 2013

Letters to the editor: Foes of tar sands oil ignore the facts

(Continued from page 1)

Jan I. Blanchard

No one should tolerate LePage's crude remarks

For me, the governor has finally crossed a line ("LePage draws fire for sexual remark," June 20). In the past his rude and crude comments were barely palatable, but the Vaseline comments pushed him over into being obscene and disgusting. How far we've lowered the bar for this man!

Could you imagine if Barack Obama or Mitt Romney had made such comments last year on the campaign trail, or Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe? Any one of their careers would have come to an immediate halt.

So I ask again, how is it we give this man a free rein in his utterances? I'm sure there are many who applaud his diatribes, but to you I say this: It is OK to vehemently agree with his politics, at the same time condemning his behavior in public.

David M. Puff

'De-risking' of pensions moves the risk to retirees

I am deeply concerned that Congress is not taking action to protect defined benefit pensions, and pensioners, as intended when the Employee Retirement Income Security Act was signed into law in 1974.

Congress needs to strengthen ERISA to make sure that companies with a continuing pension plan can only offer lump sum payments or purchase group annuity contracts within the pension plan in lieu of traditional monthly benefit payments to retirees.

What pension plan sponsors and insurance companies call "de-risking" is, in fact, a shifting of risks from pension plan sponsors (former employers) to the retirees by purchasing third-party annuities outside the defined benefit plan insured by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. under ERISA.

Plan sponsors avoid the obligation of properly funding and insuring the payment of vested pension benefits; retirees receive their benefit payments from an insurance company, rather than the plan, and those payments are no longer secured by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp.

While insurance companies may currently be financially sound, the recent history of the demise or bailouts of firms once considered "too big to fail" illustrates the risks being shifted to retirees. Verizon, GM, Ford and other companies have already implemented the "de-risking" strategies.

I urge pensioners to contact their senators and congressional representatives and urge them to call on the secretary of labor and the director of the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. to immediately impose a moratorium on any such actions in order to determine whether it is harmful to pension plan participants and thereby contrary to the legislative intent of ERISA.

Also, pensioners should request that the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. insurance continues to protect retirees and that there are sufficient regulatory safeguards to ensure that any proposal is in retirees' best interest.

Brian Thomas


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