Congress has lots of tricks for making us think that they are actually accomplishing things for us when, in fact, they are digging a hole from which we may never be able to emerge. Exhibit A: "pension smoothing." Sounds, well, smooth. What is it? It is a gimmick whereby Congress makes an "emergency" appropriation to fund the crisis du jour and funds it with (are you ready for this?) . . . NOTHING. How does that work?
Congress tells the big corporations "look, you can postpone funding your pension plans so you can keep more money in your coffers to spend on expansion or shareholder dividends or anything you want. Of course, you will have to catch up someday, but don't worry about that now. Good times are ahead, and you should have no problem catching up." Having some extra money to spend is quite an enticement. What's in it for Congress? Well, if the big corporations don't fund their pension plans, they don't get a deduction for contributions they didn't make, and corporate income tax collections go up. For the time being.
But there will come a time when the contributions "must" be made, and when (actually, IF) they are made, the corporations will get a deduction for making them, at which time corporate income tax collections go down. Get it? NO REVENUE HAS ACTUALLY BEEN RAISED. Congress has "funded" the fix for the current crisis with smoke and mirrors. It has effectively borrowed money from the future retirement of hard working citizens like us. Wait a minute. Some of them may be us. You can find a better explanation for this chicanery here.
Will all of those corporations be able to meet their pension obligations when the time comes? Experience tells us they will not. Congress says that we will worry about that when the time comes. For now, let's just eat, drink, and be merry. No, let's not.
Now is the time to take action.
Let's take responsibility for why this stuff happens. We, the people, elected the people who do this to us. Why don't we give some serious thought to electing Senators and Congresspersons who will treat us as their constituents rather than their personal piggy banks?