Susan Muffley Act, H.R. 735 – Bipartisan – Not a Bailout – Not Precedent-Setting

ISSUE – 20,000 salaried retirees of former auto supplier Delphi Corporation now ask Congress to restore our pension plan that was unfairly terminated in 2009 by Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation in a unique circumstance involving Government’s intervention in two bankruptcies.
FACT – Our Plan was historically well-funded and well-managed – Certified to be more than 85% funded in 2007 and 2008 (Watson Wyatt certification). Delphi even froze the Plan in 2008 to ensure its long-term viability.  When terminated in July, 2009, the Plan’s funded status was above the average of the 100 largest pension plans (Kevin Sullivan, Wells Fargo).  Very few if any Plans terminated by PBGC can point to such solid statistics when they were terminated.
FACT – Our Pension Plan got caught up in the 2009 bankruptcy of giant General Motors, an unprecedented Government intrusion into a U.S. company’s financial affairs.  Lengthy GM bankruptcy or liquidation would be catastrophic to U.S. economy during Great Recession.  The Administration recruited several Wall Street professionals to the Auto Team under U.S. Treasury to direct GM through 40-day bankruptcy, including which assets/liabilities would transfer to New GM.  With few other investors, Government also chose to buy $50 billion of stock.
FACT – Delphi was GM’s biggest supplier of auto parts.  To assure a reliable flow of parts to its new investment – "New GM" – the Auto Team intervened in Delphi’s bankruptcy, too.  From its outset, the Auto Team sought to have PBGC terminate the Delphi salaried plan (Deposition Matthew Feldman) to hasten Delphi’s exit from bankruptcy and pave the way for the U.S. Government to buy GM.  PBGC ignored its ERISA duty to “encourage the continuation” of the pension plans (29 USC § 1302), and terminated our plan – citing assumptions that were about $1 billion too low!
FACT – U.S. Treasury said $440 million was needed in 2009 to provide full benefits – ref. Special Inspector General Report (SIGTARP 13-003 pg 39).  These funds proved to be available.  First, during Delphi’s 2005-09 bankruptcy, PBGC allowed it to make partial payments to the salaried plan, but as ERISA allows, PBGC placed $205 million in liens on Delphi's foreign assets to protect salaried pension benefits.  Delphi had to put funds into the salaried plan before selling any asset.  Liens gave PBGC considerable leverage in protecting retirees’ pension benefits.
FACT –  Liens scared away potential Delphi investors.  So, arranged by Auto Team, PBGC surrendered the liens and ultimately realized $717 million windfall.  But it inexplicably chose to allocate only $200 million to our Plan.  Most retirees’ earned benefits continue to be reduced.  Actuary analysis shows the rebounding U.S. economy was enough to fully fund the Plan today if simply left alone, without Government’s heavy-handed approach.  The Plan’s restoration is not a bailout – It corrects wrongful government action in 2009!