Democrats keep just one mention of ‘pension’ in convention platform, downplaying Delphi controversy

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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The Democratic Party removed all but one mention of the word “pension” from the 2012 party platform it adopted Tuesday at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

That’s a stark difference from the 16 mentions of the word “pension” the party’s 2008 platform had.

The 2012 platform also removes the party’s previous promises to protect American workers’ pensions.

“Their [unions’] work resulted in the 40-hour workweek and weekends, paid leave and pensions, the minimum wage and health insurance, and Social Security and Medicare — the cornerstones of middle class security,” reads the 2012 DNC platform in its only mention of pensions.

In 2008, Democrats promised far more.

“[W]e will create automatic workplace pensions,” the 2008 DNC platform read. “People can add to their pension, or can opt out at any time; the savings account will be easily transferred between jobs; and people can control it themselves if they become self-employed. We will ensure savings incentives are fair to all workers by matching half of the initial $1000 of savings for families that need help; and employers will have an easy opportunity to match employee savings.”

“We believe this program will increase the saving participation rate for low- and middle-income workers from its current 15 percent to 80 percent,” the Democrats projected. “We support good pensions, and will adopt measures to preserve and protect existing public and private pension plans. We will require that employees who have company pensions receive annual disclosures about their pension fund’s investments. This will put a secure retirement within reach for millions of working families.”

The party also pledged to protect those pensions, saying in 2008, “We will adopt measures to preserve and protect existing public and private pension plans. In the 21st century, Americans also need better ways to save for retirement. We will automatically enroll every worker in a workplace pension plan that can be carried from job to job and we will match savings for working families who need the help. We will make sure that CEOs can’t dump workers’ pensions with one hand while they line their own pockets with the other. At platform hearings, Americans made it clear they feel that’s an outrage, and it’s time we had leaders who treat it as an outrage.”

“We will ensure all employees who have company pensions receive annual disclosures about their pension fund’s investments,” that platform read four years ago, “including full details about which projects have been invested in, the performance of those investments and appropriate details about probable future investments strategies.”

It’s unclear why the Democratic Party has removed all those pension-related pledges. Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller. But President Barack Obama broke a 2008 campaign trail promise to pensioners. (RELATED: Obama in 2008: Failure to protect pensions ‘not the America I believe in’)

“Right now, bankruptcy laws are more focused on protecting banks than protecting pensions,” Obama said back 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.”

But Obama appeared to renege on that promise when 20,000 non-union salaried retirees at Delphi Corporation found their pension plans terminated during his administration’s 2009 auto industry bailout.

On Aug. 7, TheDC published internal PBGC emails showing senior White House and Treasury officials were behind the pension terminations. Those emails demonstrate that Geithner and his Treasury Department were the driving force, and contradict sworn testimony in which several Obama administration figures have said that the decision to terminate the pensions came from the PBGC. (RELATED: Geithner, Treasury drove cutoff of non-union Delphi workers’ pensions)

The PBGC is a federal government agency that handles private-sector pension benefits issues. Its charter calls for independent representation of pension beneficiaries’ interests.

Federal law requires that PBGC is the only government entity that may initiate termination of a pension or move toward doing so.

On Wednesday, TheDC published more emails indicating that those same senior Obama officials’ actions enriched their former firms and possibly themselves in the Delphi deal. (RELATED: Emails: Obama officials enriched former firms, possibly themselves with auto bailout)

The omission of pension guarantees is not the only platform embarrassment Democrats have suffered this week. Conservative Republicans mocked the Democratic Party when its platform was released Monday night because it omitted all mentions of “God” and failed to recognize Jerusalem as the legitimate capital of Israel.

NBC News was first to report Wednesday afternoon that the Democratic National Convention will re-insert its 2008 platform language on Jerusalem, which read: “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

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