Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump
Dear Mr. President-Elect,
I have followed the media’s daily melodrama of your activities. You’ve had discussions with politicians, business leaders, movie stars and other members of the establishment.
I write a weekly newsletter directed toward baby boomers and retirees who are struggling. When the government instituted their Zero Interest Rate Policy, several trillion dollars in interest that would have been paid to seniors and savers was given to the banks and government in the form of interest savings. The retirement plans of several generations have been destroyed. A recent survey showed 70% of people nearing retirement plan on continuing to work past their normal retirement age.
Fix the retirement problem and jobs will open up for younger people helping all Americans.
I want to offer some serious suggestions that I have yet to hear about anywhere else.
Cutting Corporate Tax Rates
If the government is going to give corporations a huge tax break, that money must be deployed wisely.
- Change the Rules for 401 (k) contribution limits. Every corporation that is listed on any stock exchange should be required to offer a 401(k) program for their employees.
- Raise the maximum legal contribution limits for all levels; particularly those over 50, and the catch up provisions.
- Every corporation should be required to offer an employer matching provision. Set a mandatory floor, perhaps 3%, and raise the allowable ceiling. The higher the employer match, the more incentive to save.
- Those few companies that have pensions must fund them properly. No dividends or executive bonuses should be paid until their pension plans are totally funded.
- Protect the stockholders. A law should be passed requiring executive compensation (above a certain level) be approved by the stockholders. That would include all bonuses, stock awards and other forms of compensation. Too many big corporations allow the board of directors to reward poor performance with bonuses in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The owners of the company should make those decisions. Many would prefer to see their retirement income boosted with additional dividends.
- Break up the banks – no more bailouts. If a bank is too big to fail, it’s too big.
Underfunded Pension Plans
The theory behind pensions is individuals are not disciplined or smart enough to save for retirement, let the company or government do it for you. The theory is flawed. The private sector has dumped pensions. The Employee Benefit Research Institute reports, “…in 2013, 33 percent of all private-sector workers participated only in a defined contribution plan (DC) and 2 percent participated … in a defined benefit (DB) pension plan.”
Many public pensions are begging for taxpayer bailouts for woefully underfunded pension funds. The government also is not disciplined or smart enough to handle other people’s money.
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, a government agency, administers the pension funds for several thousand union truckers. They proposed cutting benefits for the plans closest to insolvency. The government intervened, delaying the decision. The implication was clear, after the election taxpayers would bail them out.
The City of Dallas asked for a $1.1 billion taxpayer bailout. Dallas City Council Member, Philip Kingston said, “Both taxpayers and police and firefighters will have to share in the pain.”
The two groups (taxpayers and city employees) that have lived up to their share of the bargain must fix the problems caused by others? The New York Times reports the pension fund was doomed from the beginning. The actuarial firm warned the pension assumptions were shaky and did not comply with state rules – and they were ignored. By using known, faulty assumptions, state lawmakers made it look “cost neutral”.
Citizens are having a difficult time funding their own retirement and should not be asked to pay for the mistakes of others. I propose that any pension, public or private that is underfunded looking for a bailout must comply with the following:
- Convert to a 401(k) type program like the private sector. Any government agency receiving a pension bailout will be begging for more in short order.
- Cut the pension benefits of all those who caused the problem. I’ve yet to read about pensions for elected officials being underfunded. The cuts should be punitive. Those who caused the problem should be held accountable for their misdeeds; the rank and file did their job.
- No company or union in either the public or private sector should be allowed to make any type of political contributions until their pensions are fully funded. Their members and the public are better served by funding their pension plan, not bribing politicians.
Cutting welfare, like fixing Social Security, is a political hot potato. Irresponsible politicians have ignored the problem far too long. When the welfare class can out vote the working class, the country is doomed. I propose the following.
- Aggressively investigate welfare fraud. This should include regular identification, verification of need and drug testing. Stop the welfare cheats and there is more money available for the truly needy.
- Any government entity that chooses not to cooperate should have their federal money reduced by 10% and frozen. Why should our tax money be sent to an agency that does not make a concerted effort to spend it wisely?
- Aggressively investigate social security and disability fraud. In 2015 the Inspector General reported, “6.5 Million People With Active Social Security Numbers Are 112 or Older.” I’ve never seen articles about the government finding and prosecuting the cheats. I wonder how many of these people voted. Remove the fraud and there is more money for those who worked hard and earned their retirement benefits.
Seniors are increasingly worried about their safety. Cutting off federal money for sanctuary locations will put pressure on elected officials indirectly by hurting the citizens they represent. Please consider this idea.
- Pursue the criminal route. If citizens don’t comply with a request from the government and harbored a criminal, they would be charged with a crime. I propose the following. If an illegal commits a crime in a sanctuary location, the elected officials and leaders can be charged as accessories to the crime. They have chosen to put Americans at risk by ignoring the law and should be personally liable.
I have a long list of practical ideas, but I will stop here. I want to focus on my real message.
My reason for writing
Mr. Trump I am not looking for a job, a lobbyist, or a political wannabe. I write a weekly FREE newsletter directed toward seniors and baby boomers that have seen their retirement dreams go up in smoke because the government decided that bailing out the banks took priority. The politicos look at our generation as “collateral damage”. I have spent several years looking for ways ordinary citizens can work around the problems; feeling they are powerless to deal with the cause.
Seniors and savers do not have big money lobbyists, unions or corporations leaning on the political class on our behalf.
Folks call me old-fashioned when I say that our elected officials should represent those who hire them as opposed to well-funded special interest groups. I believe each citizen is responsible for communicating their ideas to their elected officials. If they fail to do so, they have no right to complain.
You were elected because the majority of the working class is fed up with Democrats and Republicans alike who had stopped listening to the voters favoring their political donors.
Please actively seek input from those of us who have worked hard, played by the rules, saved our money and are now struggling to retire because of the actions of the government.
As a young marine (almost 60 years ago) I learned that senior enlisted men had just as much to do with winning WWII as the commanding generals.
You have listened to generals; I’d recommend you talk with some sergeant majors that really understand the problem of the rank and file.
Best personal regards,
PS: To my regular readers
Regular readers know I am a registered independent. This is a sincere effort to offer ideas addressing the cause of some of the problems many of us face daily.
If you agree, please forward this on as you see fit. If you don’t agree, please write Mr. Trump with your suggestions.
The odds of winning the lottery are probably better than this letter reaching someone who would even consider some of the suggestions. It may be wasted effort, but we have little to lose by trying.
My regular column will be in your inbox on Thursday.