Thursday, August 17, 2006

Health Care & Pension Message to Americans “You’re On Your Own”

The Bush strategy for health care and retirement is for Americans to shoulder a greater responsibility for those costs. In health care Bush encourages businesses to offer high deductible health plans which require workers to pay huge annual deductibles as well as copays. Employees can use tax free money set aside in health savings accounts to pay those bills.

Today President Bush signs a bill he calls "the most comprehensive reforms to America's pension system in over 30 years."

It attempts to shore up the nation’s flagging pension system, mostly at the expense of the worker. American and Continental airlines gain more by dropping their current defined benefit plans and switching to defined contribution. How should one of their employees feel about a bill that encourages their employer to cut their retirement benefits?

Defense contractors doing big business with the Pentagon get a break. Do they need it?

Stock Price per share performance from March 2003 to August 2006

General Dynamics more than doubled from $30 to $68
Lockheed Martin nearly doubled from $45 to $83
Northrup Grumman rose from $42 to $66
Raytheon climbed from $26 to $47
BAE Systems nearly tripled from £120 to £357

Net Income Growth from 2003 to 2005

General Dynamics up nearly 50% from $1 billion to $1.46 billion
Lockheed Martin nearly doubled from $1 billion to $1.82 billion
Northrup Grumman rose handily from $866 million to $1.4 billion
Raytheon soard from $365 million to $871 million
BAE Systems climbed from £12.5 billion to £15.4 billion

From 2003 most have seen their stock price double, their net income grow by at least 50%, and a number had record profits last quarter. Given their stellar financial performance, why has management not funded their pension obligations? Why do they need 3 more years than the average U.S. company to meet their commitments to their employees? Is this more insider favor granting from our pocketed U.S. politicians?

For a small case example of how the Bush administration really feels about pensions look how the Department of Energy is cutting benefits for workers at the Hanford Plant. All new contract workers on site would be ineligible for the Department of Energy’s defined benefit and health care benefits.

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