ABC/Washington Post Poll on Health Care Reform. . .

Indicates wide-spread concern. Excerpt:

  • An overwhelming 70 percent oppose taxing benefits worth over $17,000 a year, a funding mechanism under discussion.
  • Fifty-eight percent don’t buy President Obama’s pledge that reform can occur without forcing people to make undesired changes in their current coverage.
  • The public splits about evenly, 49-47 percent, on another basic element, requiring all Americans to have health insurance. That varies widely, though as high as 70 percent support, as low as 44 percent depending on the terms of such a requirement.
  • About eight in 10 are concerned that reform may reduce their quality, coverage and choice of care, and increase their costs, government bureaucracy and the federal deficit, with anywhere from 51 to 62 percent very worried about each of these.

View results of the poll here.

More at Freedom Project here.

Tax-Exempt Governmental Plans Guidebook

Another Guidebook is in the works: The Tax-Exempt/Governmental Plans Guidebook. . .

The SEC and Treasury on Executive Compensation Practices

TheCorporateCounsel.net Blog has a good summary here of the SEC’s and Treasury’s proposed changes to the executive compensation arena.

Also, Gene Sperling, Counselor to the Secretary of the Treausry, made the following statement:

. . . [T]here is substantial evidence that “firms use retirement benefits to provide executives with substantial amounts of `stealth compensation‘ — compensation not transparent to shareholders that is largely decoupled from performance.”

Article on 401(k) Loans

Great article here on 401(k) plan loans. The article actually discusses the effect 401(k) plan loans have on individuals contemplating bankruptcy.

Canadian Employer Cutting Retiree Perq

As I read this account of Molson Canada’s decision to no longer supply its retirees with a certain beverage, I could not help pondering whether such a practice in the U.S. might be deemed to be an “ERISA plan.” While I won’t go into all the nuances of an argument like that, I will leave you with a link to a previous post–Benefits in Kind–Could They Be Subject to ERISA–in which I discussed how one court found (and the Fifth Circuit agreed) that a promise of grocery vouchers to retirees constituted a benefit protected by ERISA.

The Fight Over Health Care Reform Resembling 'Whac-a-Mole'

It is nice to have some humor while reading about what is going on in the health care reform arena since the subject weighs so heavy on many of our minds and hearts. Excerpt here from Kaiser Health News:

Politico notes that while “Nelson is no longer calling the public plan a ‘deal breaker’… On Wednesday, he said he could not back a public plan that jeopardized the private insurance coverage for 200 million Americans but he will ‘look at any public plan that is presented.’ ‘Those people who are out there attacking us are using the whack-a-mole approach–anyone who sticks their head up and says, ‘I won’t be supporting a single payer plan,’ they whack,’ Nelson said.”

By the way, I did not misspell “Whac-a-Mole” in the title to this post (lest the spelling enthusiasts email me). See Wikipedia entry here which says “[t]he object of the game is to force the individual moles back into their holes by hitting them directly on the head with the mallet, thereby adding to the player’s score. The more quickly this is done the higher the final score.” (There really couldn’t be a better analogy applied here. )

On a more serious note, don’t miss this Wall Street Journal op-ed by Karl Rove here.

Eighth Circuit Instructs District Courts on Attorneys' Fees

This recent Eight Circuit case–Pendleton v. QuickTrip Corporation–is an ERISA 510 case that did not make it past a Motion for Summary Judgement. However, the case is noteworthy for the court’s discussion of attorneys’ fees:

The district court’s decision to deny attorney fees in this case was entered on the docket as ordered denied without authority. This statement could be interpreted as a determination that QuikTrip had not made a sufficient showing of factors in its favor to authorize an award of fees, but it is not free of ambiguity. Trial courts have many demands on their time, but nonetheless a district court should state the factors it is relying on in deciding an ERISA fee motion. See e.g. Toy v. Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union No. 74 Pension Plan, 2009 WL 692398, *2 (3d Cir. 2009); Riley v. Admr of Supersaver 401K Capital Accumulation Plan for Employees of Participating AMR Corp. Subsidiaries, 209 F.3d 780, 782 (5th Cir. 2000).

Understanding the Proposed House Democrats' Health Care Bill

From Keith Hennessey.com:

Here is a three-page outline of Key Features of the Tri-Committee Health Reform Draft Proposal in the House of Representatives, dated yesterday (June 8, 2009). . .

ScotusBlog Following the Indiana Pension Funds' Supreme Court Challenge to the Chrysler Sale

Read ScotusBlog if you want to find out what is happening in the Supreme Court Chrysler sale challenge. Excerpt:

The case of In re Chrysler LLC, Debtor has the potential to produce the most significant Supreme Court ruling on the government’s power to deal with economic crisis since the Court struck down major parts of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, in Schechter Poultry Corp. v. U.S. in 1935 and U.S. v. Butler in 1936. But the Supreme Court will not actually rule on any of the basic legal challenges unless it first puts the Chrysler sale on hold, and then agrees to hear and decide the case itself. It has no legal obligation to do either. Two challenges have now been filed. UPDATE: A third challenge has been filed. . .

Read the Application filed in the case here.

UPDATE: Supreme Court Grants a Temporary Stay. Access the Order here.

UPDATE: The stay was lifted. You can access the two-page order here.

Glitch in the 409A Regulations Created by EESA

The Treasury could not have foreseen that it would have to carve out an exception under the 409A change in control rules for the federal government acquiring interests in financial institutions. Hence the issuance of Notice 2009-49 announcing future changes to the 409A regulations:

Questions have arisen whether the Federal government’s acquisition of an equity interest in a financial institution or other entity in connection with a Treasury EESA Equity Acquisition Transaction constitutes a change in control event and accordingly a permissible