Sen. Sherrod Brown pushes to top up Delphi pensions with taxpayer money

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown will introduce new legislation on Thursday, his spokeswoman told The Daily Caller, that would use taxpayer money to top up the pension plans of the 20,000 non-union Delphi salaried retirees that President Barack Obama’s administration terminated during the 2009 auto bailout.

According to a “discussion draft” of the legislation, Brown’s measure would also give full control of the pension plans to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

The draft legislation, obtained by The Daily Caller, shows that Brown would use taxpayer money — and more Obama administration control — to fix the problem that was created by the Obama administration’s control and decisions during the government auto bailout. The draft shows that Brown would angle to obtain the funding necessary by selling taxpayer shares of General Motors stock at a loss.

The stock is currently trading at around $23, and taxpayers wouldn’t break even on it until it traded above $52. It’s unclear when — if ever — GM stock will trade above $52.

Brown’s plan would also give full control over the pension plans to Geithner, though internal Obama administration documents and communications prove that he and senior White House and Department of Treasury officials actually drove the cutoff of those very plans a little more than three years ago. More internal documents and communications show how those same senior Obama officials enriched their former firms and that they possibly lined their own pockets with spoils earned off terminating the non-union Delphi salaried employees’ pensions.

This development could hurt the Obama administration politically: It features a liberal stalwart in the U.S. Senate admitting mistakes in a major aspect of the president’s auto bailout — a key plank in Obama’s re-election campaign — and advocating that the president fix them. Brown’s solution also uses more of the same controls that conservatives argue against: government power and taxpayer money.

Meanwhile, the Delphi Salaried Retirees Association (DSRA) has presented a plan to restore the pensions to the Obama administration that it says won’t cost taxpayers any money, and won’t involve Geithner.

“The DSRA has presented a solution to the Obama administration that will fully fund our pension plans with zero taxpayer dollars,” Delphi retiree Tom Rose said at a recent rally for Delphi workers in Dayton, Ohio.

When asked why Brown would introduce legislation involving taxpayer money when there is a plan that would not require taxpayer funds, a spokeswoman for Brown told TheDC, “This is one of many avenues Sen. Brown is pursuing to assist Delphi retirees. His top priority is ensuring that they receive the pensions they earned, and is committed to pursuing multiple, parallel approaches to fixing the problem, including DSRA’s proposal he sent to the administration with Sen. [Debbie] Stabenow in July.”

Brown’s plan would give Geithner full control over when, and if, the government makes the sale of taxpayer-owned GM stock to raise revenue to cover the Delphi pension plans. Tom Crosson, a spokesman for Ohio Republican Rep. Mike Turner, told TheDC that all these issues are a sign that Brown isn’t actually doing anything productive, and is simply looking to put on a show ahead of the November elections.

“It’s clear Sen. Brown is more concerned with the impending election, than if the Delphi Salaried Retirees will ever see their pensions restored,” Crosson said. “His plan will likely gather dust in the Senate, and if ever passed, will then gather dust on the desk of Secretary Geithner — who so far has shown little regard for these retirees or the difficulty they face due to the actions of his department.”

Brown is in a heated race with Republican Josh Mandel, who is, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average, nipping at Brown’s heels with 43.3 percent to Brown’s 47 percent. Mandel spokesman Travis Considine told TheDC that this move on the Delphi pensions is a sign of political desperation.

“Sherrod Brown is feeling the political pressure 55 days before an election, which is why he’s finally trying to take action after waiting three and a half years,” Considine wrote in an email. “More insulting to the parties involved is how Sherrod Brown proposes to solve the problem he created — by putting taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars when many Delphi retirees believe the issue can be resolved without any taxpayer dollars being used. Ohio needs a senator who will do the right thing the first time and who won’t allow the federal government to pick winners and losers, which is how Delphi retirees got ripped off in the first place.”

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