FLASHBACK: Obama in 2008: Failure to protect pensions ‘not the America I believe in’

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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On the campaign trail in 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama claimed during his campaign that he considers “pension protection” to be “something we ought to put at the top of our priority list.”

“Right now, bankruptcy laws are more focused on protecting banks than protecting pensions,” Obama said then. “And, I don’t think that’s fair. It’s not the America I believe in. It’s time to stop cutting back the safety net for working people while we protect golden parachutes for the well-off. If you’ve worked hard and played by the rules, then you’ve earned your pension. If a company goes bankrupt, then workers need to be our top priority, not an afterthought.”

It appears that Obama has reneged on that campaign promise, though, as emails The Daily Caller obtained and first published on Tuesday show senior White House and Treasury officials were behind the termination of pensions for 20,000 non-union Delphi salaried retirees.

Those emails show that the Treasury Department, led by Secretary Timothy Geithner, was the driving force behind terminating those pensions, a move made in 2009 while the Obama administration implemented its auto bailout plan. The emails contradict sworn testimony in which several Obama administration figures have consistently claimed that the decision to terminate the pensions came from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). The PBGC is a federal government agency that handles private-sector pension benefits issues. Its charter calls for independent representation of pension beneficiaries’ interests.

29 U.S.C. §1342 maintains that the PBGC is the only government entity that is legally empowered to initiate termination of a pension or make any official movements toward doing so.

White House officials and Obama re-election campaign officials have not responded to TheDC’s requests for comment about the president’s pension comments in 2008.

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