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  • Issue Brief posted April 6, 2016 by Rachel Greszler Rescuing Entitlements and Pensions: Study Shows Americans Can Work Longer

    A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) estimates that Americans can work significantly longer than they currently do.[1] According to the study, Americans could work an additional 2.5 years to 4.2 years on average between the ages of 55 and 69. This is equivalent to a 30 percent to 50 percent increase in employment among this age group. This is…

  • Issue Brief posted April 1, 2016 by Salim Furth, Ph.D., Rachel Greszler Draft House Legislation Falls Short of Priorities for Puerto Rico

    Congress should not lose sight of key conservative priorities as it considers whether (and how) to respond to the economic and fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico. The troubled territory has been a laboratory for progressive politics and crony capitalism for decades. Predictably, the government has smothered the private sector, and workers receive a lower share of income in…

  • Commentary posted March 29, 2016 by Rachel Greszler Congress Wants Union Pension Bailout, but Can't Afford Promises

    Many workers have been promised far more in pensions than their employers — public or private — can afford to pay them. Puerto Rico, for example, will soon have to start tapping general revenues for some $750 million annually just to cover its pension IOUs. Stateside, a similar day of reckoning fast approaches the United Mine Workers of America. Unfortunately, as the…

  • Issue Brief posted March 22, 2016 by Rachel Greszler Congress Should Not Give Puerto Rico Federal Tax Subsidies

    Policymakers are considering extending federal tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC)—but not the rest of the federal tax code—to Puerto Rico as a way to help the island emerge from its economic and fiscal crisis. This would amount to an expensive cash bailout and would not address the core problems that caused Puerto Rico’s…

  • Issue Brief posted March 14, 2016 by Rachel Greszler Congress Can Help Pensioners, But Not Through a Bailout

    Some lawmakers want to bail out a select group of coal workers’ pensions by tapping a fund designated for environmental cleanup. The Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fund (AML) is needed for cleanup of abandoned coal mines and should not be used to fund the pension and retiree health benefits of one particular coal miners’ union—the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA).…

  • Commentary posted February 12, 2016 by Rachel Greszler Puerto Rico Can Move Forward Without Congress

    Congress and the president have proposed various federal interventions and bailouts to save the cash-strapped and economically troubled commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent a letter to Congress last month claiming that "only Congress can enact the legislative measures necessary to fully resolve this problem." Yet the island is working within its…

  • Issue Brief posted December 10, 2015 by Rachel Greszler Misguided Plan for Puerto Rico Would Set Dangerous Precedent

    Puerto Rico faces an imminent financial crisis caused by decades of economically harmful policies, prolific government spending, and broken—if not corrupt—governance. Claiming that this U.S. territory has no options on its own, the President and some Members of Congress have called for a bailout of Puerto Rico, including access to retroactive bankruptcy and other federal…

  • Issue Brief posted December 10, 2015 by Rachel Greszler The Multiemployer Pension Reform Act: Inadequate Response to Looming Pension Fund Insolvency

    According to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation’s (PBGC’s) own 2015 annual report, the government entity tasked with insuring private-sector pensions faces a $76.3 billion shortfall.[1] In other words, the backstop that Congress created to prevent workers from losing their promised pensions could be worthless. Without further, significant reforms, the PBGC’s…

  • Issue Brief posted November 24, 2015 by Rachel Greszler Time to Cut Out the SSA as Middleman in SSDI Representation

    Unlike traditional attorney-client relationships in which the client pays the attorney at the conclusion of a case, attorneys who represent Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claimants receive payment directly from the Social Security Administration (SSA), even though it is not the SSA’s money. SSDI claimants enter into private contracts with representatives to…

  • Issue Brief posted October 28, 2015 by Paul Winfree, Romina Boccia, Justin T. Johnson, Daren Bakst, Nicolas Loris, James L. Gattuso, Jason Snead, Rachel Greszler, Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D., David R. Burton, Curtis S. Dubay Analysis of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015

    The federal budget is on a dangerous trajectory and immediate corrective action is required. The U.S. national debt is at $18.1 trillion. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), if the government remains on its currently planned course, it will spend $7 trillion more over the next 10 years than it will receive in taxes, piling on even more debt. Heritage…

  • Backgrounder posted October 23, 2015 by Rachel Greszler Improving Social Security Disability Insurance with a Flat Benefit

    Social Security’s Disability Insurance (SSDI) program has existed for nearly 60 years. Over that time, it has morphed from a relatively small-scale, anti-poverty program into a massive system that provides benefits to one out of every 20 working-age individuals. Despite its size and expense, the program fails to keep millions out of poverty. Rather than maintaining the…

  • Backgrounder posted July 30, 2015 by Rachel Greszler Bankrupt Pensions and Insolvent Pension Insurance: The Case of Multiemployer Pensions and the PBGC’s Multiemployer Program

    A growing number of private, multiemployer pension plans are projected to become insolvent over the coming years, as is the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), the government entity that insures them. Absent substantial reform, the PBGC will be unable to pay promised benefits to the retirees of the failed pension plans that it insures. If Congress does not alter…

  • Issue Brief posted July 27, 2015 by Rachel Greszler, Salim Furth, Ph.D. An Economic Crisis Is the Heart of Puerto Rico’s Financial Crisis

    Puerto Rico faces a severe fiscal crisis, but this is merely a symptom of Puerto Rico’s primary disease: a lack of economic growth. Over the past decade, as Puerto Rico’s debt has expanded rapidly, the economy has contracted more than 10 percent. If the economy were growing, Puerto Rico would be much better positioned to address its fiscal crisis and might have averted it…

  • Backgrounder posted July 24, 2015 by Rachel Greszler Social Security Trustees: Disability Insurance Program Will Be Insolvent in 2016

    A‌ccording to the 2015 Social Security Trustees Report, the Social ‌Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Trust Fund is on course to run dry in 2016, six decades after the program began in 1956.[1] Absent reform, disability benefits will be cut across the board by almost 20 percent, and the average disabled worker’s benefit will fall below the federal poverty level. For…

  • Commentary posted July 21, 2015 by Rachel Greszler Private option could help save disability insurance — and disabled workers, too

    The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program has many problems. For starters, it will run out of money next year, which could mean 20 percent benefit cuts. The program also suffers from excessive wait times, complicated rules and procedures, inconsistent decisions, deficient rehabilitation services, and insufficient protections against fraud. Introducing an…