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Senate confirms IRS health care counsel to head PBGC

Posted On: Oct. 9, 2015 12:00 AM CST

The Senate has confirmed IRS health care counsel W. Thomas Reeder as the next director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.

Mr. Reeder succeeds Joshua Gotbaum, who left the agency more than a year ago to take a position at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Prior to joining the IRS in 2013, Mr. Reeder was senior benefits counsel on the Senate Finance Committee from 2009 to 2013. From 2000 to 2013, he held several positions at the U.S. Treasury Department, including benefits tax counsel.

“I’ve spent most of my professional life helping employers start and maintain retirement plans. I appreciate the faith the administration and the Senate have shown in nominating and confirming me, and I’m looking forward to getting started,” Mr. Reeder said in a statement following Thursday’s Senate confirmation.

His move to the PBGC comes as the agency faces significant financial issues, especially in its multiemployer pension insurance program.

That program’s deficit leaped fivefold in fiscal 2014 to a record $42.4 billion. Responding to that huge deficit, lawmakers in the last congressional session passed legislation that will allow financially troubled multiemployer plans to cut benefits to prevent their insolvency.

In fact, late last month, one of the nation’s largest, most financially troubled multiemployer plans, The Teamsters Central States, Southeast & Southwest Areas Pension Fund, sought permission to cut benefits for participants, including retirees, as part of a proposed rescue plan awaiting Treasury Department approval.

While the 2014 law will allow financially troubled multiemployer plans to reduce benefits, the PBGC’s multiemployer fund still is projected to become insolvent in 2025, according to a PBGC report released last month.