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In the aftermath of the Enron scandal, Bush Jr. stated that, "One of the things we’re deeply concerned about is that there has been a wave of bankruptcies that have caused many workers to lose their pensions, and that’s deeply troubling me." Bush’s sorrow for the misfortune of workers hasn’t been enough of an inspiration to keep him from proposing measures which would eliminate the liability of employers in age-discrimination lawsuits brought on by the transition to "cash-balance" pension plans, a process which will affect far more working people than the collapse of Enron.

The cash-balance plan effectively puts the amount paid to retired workers under the complete control of the company’s books, giving no real account to the worker, no guarantee of annual benefits, no investment decisions on the part of the worker, and leaving the amount of interest to be paid up to the company accountants instead of the real market. Economic policy-makers in DC proclaim that the new system works out much better for workers because of its "portability"(!). But the reality is that the more than 8 million workers who have been switched to the new system since the late 1980s have collectively lost some $334 billion in promised benefits, each worker subject to losses anywhere from 30 to 54 percent over the abandoned 401(K) plans.

Older workers are suffering the worst of all because of the "wear-away-period" policy, whereby, if the amount of benefits already accrued under the old system is higher than it would be if cash-balance pensions had been instituted since the start of his or her career, all benefits are frozen until they’re "caught up". The IRS has now opened a 90-day period during which they’re available for "public comment" on the issue. But in the end, not even a million phone-calls and letters can ensure the working class is paid its dues; only by working to build and strengthen unions capable of fighting for socialist policies through a real party of labor can the American proletariat finally claim its fair share. Bush and his cronies will always have another trick up their sleeve, and the Democrats will play us even worse when they get a chance: Fight for a working-class alternative to the bourgeois parties to keep these leeches out of workers’ retirement funds!