Railroad Retirement: The Stealth Issue That Will Sway The Outcome Of The 2012 Election
- Ryan proposed going after the RR Retirement fund.
- Romney unenthusiastically denounced Ryan’s proposal.
- Obama said he would not touch it, but worked behinds the scenes to redistribute it to illegal aliens and lifelong welfare recipients.
- You were right to be fearful of Romney, but if you voted for Obama because of this issue, you made a uninformed mistake.
The budget proposal President Obama recently submitted had several provisions designed to increase government tax revenue. But one provision concerning retirement accounts triggered alarm bells for many Americans, raising fears that the government will confiscate your retirement savings.
Why people think confiscation is possible
The provision in the Obama budget calls for tax laws to “prohibit individuals from accumulating over $3 million in tax-preferred retirement accounts.” Specifically, the budget refers to a complicated formula that involves figuring out how much money a person would need in order to buy an annuity contract that would guarantee annual payments to retirees of $205,000 for the rest of their lives. The proposal would raise $9 billion over the next 10 years, according to the budget’s forecast.
Immediately, many analysts jumped to the conclusion that the provision might involve actually taking away money from retirement accounts. CNBC’s Larry Kudlow described the measure in a special editorial in the New York Sun as an “incredible and arbitrary limit or tax on — or even possible confiscation of — IRA-type tax-advantaged savings account [emphasis added]… Keep Reading“
If you are wondering why three million conservatives decided to vote for Obama, look no further than this. Despite my best efforts, Romney/Ryan never did come out and vocally put this issue to rest. They did put some more up on their website, but they never brought it up as a campaign issue.
BTW – My neighbor, who is a good conservative Christian guy, voted for Obama for this very reason.
Nothing is more true to the spirit of the “Taxed Enough Already movement” than privatized retirement trusts. And nothing is more tax and spend liberal than to try to liberate these trusts into the money-flushing toilet that is our government’s general fund.
Published on: Aug 11, 2012
Why is Obama spending so much time and effort on the Bain Capital story, when it only affects a handful of people? It is because it is a distraction. Bain Capital is Obama telling Mitt he has a “bat in the cave” so that he can get all the cheerleader’s phone numbers while Mitt is in the bathroom mirror digging. Obama’s real interest is not attacking Romney on Bain. Obama has more fertile fields like railroad retirement to cultivate — on the sly.
You are probably thinking: “Why are you making such a big deal out of a few railroaders? They can’t hurt Romney! It is just a few votes! Isn’t the Ryan budget stuff old news anyway?” (And no I am not a railroader. My retirement is in a 401k plan.)
If that is what you are thinking then you just don’t know. And what you don’t realize is that Railroad retirement issue could be the deciding factor in the 2012 presidential election. I will go so far as to say that if Mitt would come out and publicly say that he will never touch Railroad Retirement that the election would be over. Done! Obama would not stand a chance.
As I write this, Obama is secretly attacking Romney on this issue because it is a huge deal. And unlike the Bain Capital attacks, these attacks are working!
Conservatives are going to stay home!!
(Update August 12, 2012 4:36 PM – see comment below) Look, Romney just lost my vote. Period. Lifelong Repub, my vote now will go to Obama. I have 25 years of railroading in, 5-10 years to go. RR retirement is potent, among the very best retirements out there for union guys, even by union standards. And, it is completely [sic] PRIVATE. Not one thin dime of public funding goes to my retirement. I pay for it…
If Romney doesn’t come out soon and clearly articulate that he will fight to keep the Railroad Retirement Trust as is, and denounce just that one part of Paul Ryan’s budget plan verbally — like he has in writing on his website — he is in serious trouble come November. That light at the end of the tunnel for getting rid of Obama will be a train, and “we the people” are the ones who will get run over.
Why this is such a big issue?
The rail freight industry is enormous! All of the closely contested swing states are heavily involved and influenced by different railroads and their unions. Each of these railroads have thousands of miles main-line track and spurs. On these tracks (about every one hundred miles) is a railroad town of at least eight or ten thousand people. [At one time a couple of hundred miles was all a railway worker was expected to travel - home terminals and away from home terminals (towns) sprung up.]
These towns are the homes of the well-paid union rail workers (track men, signal gangs, conductors, brakemen and engineers). Plus the railroads also support their kids, grand-kids, railroad subcontractors, hotels, food marts etc. The list goes on and on. But the real people of influence of these communities are the railroad men.
(Update: Woman: Well, I just wrote him on his page about this very issue. Not that I expect to get a response on it, but I guarantee I am not done checking into this. I am a Tea Party Patriots local coordinator, and I will press the issue all the way to the top if I have to, to get him to answer the issue. He BETTER back off on this quest…)
They are the upper middle class, community leaders who influence everything from who is the local football coach, to who is on the school boards and even to whom people should think about voting for in presidential elections. These influential people are active in the churches, members of the golf clubs, you name it. This is especially true in the small towns of the rail/coal swing states like Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky, but it also true throughout the Midwest and nation wide. We are talking over a million people here, who have influence over millions more people.
These people have skin in the game, they are concentrated in the coal rich swing states, and they — and their spouses — will show up to vote this Fall! Right now they could go either way.
(Update: (DATA.GOV) 777,646 railroad employees across the United States, plus 528,759 who are now retired and collecting paychecks… Now factor in their families and the people they have influence over.)
If you just count one spouse and one kid, it comes to over three million votes!
These are good God-fearing folks who are being tugged on one side by their morals, and on the other side their livelihoods. And the unions heavily influence them, because the railway industry is unique in the sense that they still need them. RR officials treat their employees terribly, and these guys have a legitimate need for union protection — but that is another story. What matters is that they are the swing voters, and I believe that they will decide this election.
Meanwhile at the spit and whittle club
“Man I hate Obama, but I can’t vote for that Romney because he supports Ryan’s plan to raid the Railroad Retirement.” This is what is being said in countless barber shops in the vital swing states that Romney will need to win. I myself have heard this being said three times this week from people who have absolutely noting to do with the railroad or it’s retirement plan.
I am not sure that analysts like Dick Morris; pundits like Erick Erickson or GOP candidates like Mitt Romney even have a clue as to the importance of the railroad retirement issue. But Obama does! The union officials know the issue’s power, and they have put their “General Secretary” Comrade Obama in the know.
Proof is in the actions they are taking. Obama and his union ilk have launched an all out cold war stealth assault on Romney, hitting him where they think that it will hurt him the most. His union comrades are sending out millions of fear mongering flyers to the millions of union workers, and more importantly to millions of union retirees.
Newest Union Flyer (Source northeasternsystemfederation.org)
(Click pic for larger image)
These letters and flyers have one clear message: “ROMNEY IS AFTER YOUR RAILROAD RETIMENT!” The people receiving these letters are not the government-union commies that we are hearing about on Fox News. These are limited government conservatives who would vote for Romney, but are afraid that our out of control government will get and waste their hard earned retirement if they do. They are being propagandized and fear mongered by Obama and the liberal union leaders.
What is Railroad Retirement?
Railroad retirement is what social security should be. It is not available to the government. It goes in a coffer that the government can’t get to. The people who put into the coffer are the ones who take out of the coffer — for retirement and healthcare alike. People who work for forty years can expect live the same lifestyles they had before they retired, because the government can’t get their greedy tax, waste-and-spend hands on it. It is the closest thing to privatized social security we have here in America.
The National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust is a union pension fund affiliated with the United States Railroad Retirement Board. The fund has $20 billion in assets and was established pursuant to Section 105 of the Railroad Retirement Survivor’s Improvement Act of 2001, which was signed into law on December 21, 2001. The sole purpose of the Trust is to manage and invest Railroad Retirement assets. The Trust invests the assets of the Railroad Retirement Account in a diversified investment portfolio in the same manner as those of private sector retirement plans. Investment of Railroad Retirement Account assets is no longer limited to U.S. government securities and the Trust is a tax-exempt entity independent from the federal government.
Railroaders do not pay Social Security. What is held out of their check goes into this coffer. And as you might suspect, because the government can’t get to it that it has become huge success — to the sum of $24.1 billion.
This is the RR workers’ money, and it should be left alone. Any government official, who tries to reach in to get it, should be run out of Washington on a rail. But as you might have guessed, both liberals and republicans would love to get there hands on it, so that they can destroy it like they did the social security system.
This is the basis of the Obama attack
The House of Representatives just passed its budget resolution that would conform Railroad Retirement Tier 1 benefits to equal those of Social Security, suggesting that changing our railroad retirement would save the government $2 billion over 10 years. Railroad retirement is fully funded by railroad employers and employees with no funding from the government. This plan was passed on to the Senate by a count of 228-191, with all Republicans except 10 voting for it.
The Railroad Retirement Act of 2001 privatized our retirement and removed it from the grasp of our government, unlike Social Security. If you Republican lawmakers want to get involved with railroad retirement, how about helping us (National Association of Retired & Veteran Railway Employees Inc.) fight against Widows Initial Minimum Amount and the take-back provision of 1983. Both of these agreements hurt our spouses by denying COLAs (Cost of Living Allowances) and reducing their annuity by5 percent.
Our Railroad Retirement Fund, since 2001, has grown to $24.1 billion as of Dec. 31, 2011, and is doing well. Leave it alone!
Obama has called out the big dog. He has sent the Mooch to spread propaganda!
“First Lady Michelle Obama will visit a Kansas City Southern Railway facility in Shreveport, La., … Railroad Retirement fund solvent and healthy” …
SHREVEPORT, La. — First Lady Michelle Obama will visit a Kansas City Southern Railway facility in Shreveport, La., Thursday, April 12, where the UTU represents various crafts, to celebrate the 50,000 veteran or military spouses hired by American companies nationwide as part of the president’s Joining Forces initiative encouraging the hiring.
Kansas City Southern is among numerous railroads that have recruited and hired veterans and military spouses.
Mittens better get on the ball, before it is too late
Although “Mitt Romney has never introduced or stated any plans to modify the railroad retirement” he has not put this issue to rest.
Eliminate the “60/30” provision which allows railroad employees to retire with full benefits at 60 years of age with 30 years of service;
Eliminate the Railroad Retirement Occupational disability program for rail workers who can no longer perform their railroad duties due to disability;
Increase the minimum retirement age for railroad employees to 62 years of age with a reduction in benefits;
Increase the minimum age for spousal annuities with a reduction in benefits;
Increase the annual out-of-pocket medical costs paid by railroad retirees and cause the costs of railroad retiree health insurance under GA46000 to soar.
And here’s what Mitt Romney said about the Ryan budget on March 20 in Chicago:
I’m very supportive of the Ryan budget plan. It’s a bold and exciting effort on his part and on the part of the Republicans and it’s very much consistent with what I put out earlier…. I applaud it. It’s an excellent piece of work and very much needed.
Remember in November!
This is a major concern for a large number of voters
To be delivered to: President Barack Obama
The two puppets leading the act on confusion in America is Mitt Romney and his sidekick Paul Ryan. This duo’s plan is to do away with a grandfathered retirement plan that railroad workers themselves have paid into. This money does not belong to public funding and is a private fund but those vested in it. The dynamic duo of Romney and Ryan, plan on ruining American and making it a profit for Republican and personal gain. Vote no on anything related to these two wolves in sheeps
On March 29, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on a party line vote adopted the so-called Ryan Budget over the opposition of House Democrats.
One of the Budget’s provisions states that railroad retirement benefits “are more generous than Social Security in many ways.” The Budget goes on to call for legislation to conform railroad retirement Tier 1 benefits “so that its benefits would equal those of Social Security, with an estimated savings to taxpayers of $2 billion over 10 years.”
First, it has no chance of being adopted as legislation this year. Why? Because the Democratic Senate will not even take it up for consideration, and President Obama wouldn’t sign it even if Congress passed it.
Second, if the Republicans succeed in November in winning the White House and Senate, railroad retirement, as we know it, may not survive.
The Ryan Budget is enthusiastically supported by Mitt Romney and almost all of the current Congressional Republicans. Even though the above quoted Budget language reflects a fundamental misunderstanding about how railroad retirement is funded, there is no doubt as to its intent: to eliminate occupational disability and 60/30 retirement, as those are the two chief benefits that exceed Social Security benefits.
As railroad workers and retirees, we understand that those benefits are completely funded by the taxes we and railroad employers pay. But that doesn’t matter to the Republican majorities who voted for this.
Mitt’s only response
Romney is clear in his answer to the the question that was raised on aboutmittromney.com. His answer even goes as far as saying this part of Ryan’s bill was “unnecessary and ill-advised.”
But this is not enough! He is being killed by the Obama team on this issue, and I don’t think he has any idea.
Question: The union folks are claiming that Gov. Romney plans to move the railroad retirement system into social security (which would reduce the benefits of those who have worked on the railroad for many years), and that is a basis to vote for Obama. To me this is not very smart since Obama has an all-out war on coal, nevertheless it is the argument they are using…Could you please confirm or deny this plan?
Long Answer: (short answer found below at the bottom)
This is an untrue rumor by the democrat-aligned unions in the important coal and railroad regions in Virginia and West Virginia, and told to railroad workers and retirees nationwide.Mitt Romney has no such plan, and it would go against his stated philosophies to introduce such a plan.This is merely an attempt to swing the vote to Obama by using untrue scare tactics.Mitt Romney has laid out his plan to reform social security and it does not mention and does not touch the railroad retirement. (See summary by NY Times below.)Mitt Romney has never introduced or stated any plans to modify the railroad retirement.
Reason: The railroad retirement is healthy and currently does not need reforming:
“Barring a sudden, unanticipated, large decrease in railroad employment or substantial investment losses, the railroad retirement system will experience no cash-flow problems during the next 23 years. The long-term stability of the system, however, is still questionable. Under the current financing structure, actual levels of railroad employment and investment return over the coming years will largely determine whether corrective action is necessary.”
But Social Security needs reforming:“Social Security began running deficits in 2010, paying out $48.9 billion more in benefits than it received through payroll taxes. Nor will these deficits ever end, meaning that without reforms, Social Security will continue to add billions to the deficit and debt each year.”
Background:Railroad workers pay into a separate railroad retirement instead of paying into social security:“While railroad retirement tier I payroll taxes are coordinated with social security taxes so that employers and employees pay tier I taxes at the same rate as social security taxes, both railroad employees and employers pay additional tier II taxes which are used to finance railroad retirement benefit payments over and above social security levels.”
“Railroad Retirement Tier I … payroll taxes on employers and workers are the same as for Social Security, but Tier I allows railroaders with at least 30 years of service to retire at age 60 with full benefits for themselves and spouse. The cost of early retirement is funded by Tier II payroll taxes, which also fund additional Railroad Retirement benefits similar to private-sector pension plans where they still exist.
“The average Railroad Retirement benefit paid current retirees is some $1,700 more monthly than paid to Social Security recipients, while the Railroad Retirement spouse benefit is some $500 more than paid spouses under Social Security.
“Carriers pay the bulk of the additional Railroad Retirement taxes – 12.1 percent on payroll up to $81,900 per employee, while employees pay 3.9 percent on the same earnings. This significant pension benefit is what the railroads rely on to keep our professional workforce on the job until retirement.”
Basis:The basis for spreading this rumor is that the 222 page draft resolution of Paul Ryan’s budget plan included the following two paragraphs:“Illustrative policy options… that could be considered by the committees… are the following:
“… Conform Railroad Retirement Tier 1 Benefits to Social Security Benefits.”
Mitt Romney praised the “vision” and “principles” laid out in Paul Ryan’s blueprint for the fiscal year 2013 budget resolution (which by the way said nothing about railroad retirement), and in the budget passed by the house on March 29, 2012 (which by the way, none of the versions said anything about the railroad retirement either):
“We are making progress. The House of Representatives has unanimously rejected President Obama’s vision of an America with higher taxes, unlimited spending, and expansive government… I look forward to working with Congress to achieve fiscal discipline and passing a budget that moves us toward a simpler, smarter, and smaller federal government.”
(And although Mitt Romney never endorsed the draft consideration on the railroad retirement, the unnecessary and ill-advised proposal would not have reduced benefits once they kick in, but only would have been to hold the retirement to 62 and older, as social security currently does, verses allowing full retirements at 60 for those with 30 plus years in, as the tier I benefits currently allow.)The unions are spreading big, false rumors based on innuendo and congress proposing in a draft to consider a much more minor change than combining the railroad retirement with social security and removing all the tier II benefits (which probably would be illegal and impossible to achieve anyway).If Mitt Romney were ever to try to reform the railroad retirement, it would be for the same purpose (of saving the retirement, which is unnecessary at this point)…
Short Answer:No one, neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama, has plans to combine the railroad retirement with social security, or to reform the railroad retirement plan.The real question railroad workers need to ask is which one will provide a stable enough economy that the pension fund will securely grow (not lay stagnant or shrink) providing enough funds to support additional retirees, and ensure the industry thrives so there will be enough new workers to pay into the system when existing workers retire?~ Based on Correspondence on Jun 13, 2012, updated Jun 30th
Paul Ryan is departing from teaparty values and we need to call him out on it.
Don’t get me wrong I like Paul Ryan. He is just wrong on this issue, or he has made a terrible blunder because he didn’t fully understand it.
Romney clearly stated on his website that although he supports the Ryan budget plan, he has no plans to modify Railroad Retirement. He needs to do more than that. He needs to stand up and clearly — verbally — state that he will never touch the RR Trust. As for Paul Ryan and the rest of the GOP who voted for this bill, they need to go on record as denouncing it as well. Because Romney is right; it was “unnecessary and ill-advised.”
I only hope that Romney can clear this issue up before it is too late!
Note: We will be updating these attacks below as we find them. If you know of or have access to such material, drop a comment with a link and we will add it here.
CLEVELAND, April 16 — The U.S. House of Representatives has adopted federal budget legislation sponsored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) that would have devastating effects on the retirement security of both active and retired BLET members, as well as all railroad workers. The measure passed on March 29 by a vote of 228-191, with 10 Republicans joining all of the Democrats in voting against it.
Perhaps the most devastating portion of the Ryan Budget are the provisions that sponsors claim “would conform Tier 1 so that its benefits would equal those of Social Security…
Unearthed Union Flyers
click for larger image (source)
The screen shots are from Paul Ryan’s FB page. He knows about this issue!
Update: (Anonymous Facebook) Mitt Romney has selected congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate.
Ryan, is the creator of the “Ryan Budget” that will take your Railroad Retirement away, and in its place will stick social security up your ass. In my humble opinion Ryan is an even bigger jerk off than Romney, who is a world-class jerk off, and much more dangerous to us as railroaders, and keep in mind I’m a Republican.
I have voted in every election since I was 21 years old but I can’t remember a single election where the outcome is going to effect me personally, and all other active and retired railroaders, more than this upcoming presidential election. Romney has already stated, numerous times, he is very much in favor of the Ryan Budget and will sign the bill should it come across his desk as President.
In response to a letter from a railroader questioning the logic of doing away with railroad retirement, Ryan refused to answer the questions put forth in the letter, and stated he did not respond to individuals who were not in his congressional district, and referred the writer to the congressman in his own district. Ryan is an ASSHOLE, and together with Romney they are a very definite threat to our retirement. They are telling us up front, they are going to screw us if elected. How much more incentive do you need to do whatever necessary to insure these two clowns don’t get elected? I didn’t work 30 years just to have my retirement taken away from me.
As a lifelong Republican I urge everyone to vote for Obama! These f*@!in’ republicans like Romney and Ryan are going to make life miserable for everyone, not just railroaders.
Personally, whichever side their on, I can’t stand the “I only answer people who live in my district” nonsense. Meanwhile, everything you vote on affects the whole country, not just your district.
(Update August 12, 1:32 PM) FULL RADIO INTERVIEW: Mark Levin says Paul Ryan was a great VP pick by Romney.
I believe that Mark Levin is right, Ryan is a great pick, but he is going to need to clear up this issue before it becomes their Achilles Heel.
(Update August 12, 2012 4:11 PM) The purpose of this article to clear up the misinformation that is being spread by the Obama administration and campaign, and their union allies about Mitt Romney and his stance on railroad retirement. This is not an attack on Mr. Romney or Mr. Ryan. It is a heads-up!
Update: We have done our best to be Paul Revere on this important issue. If conservatives stick their heads in the sand, and allow Romney/Ryan not to address this, it is going to result in four more years of Obama.
How many votes did G.W. Bush beat Al Gore by in the 2004 election?