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Government & Politics

Sherrod Brown's SOTU Guest will Keep the Massive Pension Problem Front Burner


Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown hopes to draw attention at tonight’s State of the Union address to a bill that would restore pension plans for a million members that are running out of money. 

Rita Lewis will be Brown’s guest. She’s the widow of Butch Lewis, a Teamster after whom the bill is named. Back in 2014, Lewis and other retirees got word that their payouts could be cut more than in half. Rita Lewis says she expects Congress and the president to see a betrayal of the middle class when they see her.

“We are the ones that keep this economy going. And not just that fact, but we are human beings. We’re veterans, we’re Republicans, we’re Democrats, we’re independents. We did everything that we were supposed to do and we followed the rules and the only thing that we were guilty of is we believed in the people that were supposed to be having our best interests at heart.” 

The bill would loan billions of dollars to the pension plans through the sale of U.S. Treasury bonds. Other plans affected include the Ironworkers, Mineworkers and Carpenters. Brown says Wall Street squandered the money and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says he’s sympathetic to the problem, but hasn’t committed to the bill or an alternative.