This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, December 18, 2019:
The sprawling spending bill just passed by the House and about to be passed by the Senate includes a door that opens Pandora’s Box: the American Miners Act. When signed by the president (who has already said he would sign it in keeping with a campaign promise), the law would immediately transfer $750 million from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund to the pension plan run by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). In addition, the language of the bill provides that “the Secretary of the Treasury shall transfer an additional amount … to pay benefits under that plan.”
For years, members of the UMWA have been pressuring Congress to bail out their pension plan which, if left alone, will run out of money in less than three years. In 2018, the plan had 95,990 participants, only 3,486 of whom were paying into the plan while the remainder, 92,504, were receiving benefits. Put another way, fewer than four out of 100 participants in the plan are paying into it, while the rest are getting checks from it. That’s equivalent to $5.50 in benefits being paid out for every $1 being paid in.
In her testimony before Congress in July, Rachel Greszler, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, explained what happens if the UMWA pension plan runs out of money: