Cover

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pp. 1-1

TItle Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Tables

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pp. ix-x

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Foreword

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pp. xi-xii

...The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) affects Americans’ pensions, disability, health and life insurance, and severance pay. Its history has not received sufficient attention, however, in part because of its technical complexity and the priorities of academic research on government and politics.Wooten’s history marks the thirtieth anniversary of the enactment of ERISA. He grounds the book...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xvi

...In more than ten years working on this book, I have piled up a lot of debts. The book relies heavily on archival research. Many friends of mine who lived near archives were kind enough to allow me to housesit or borrow a couch or spare bedroom. My thanks to Elizabeth Abrams, Jonathan Cedarbaum, Doug Greenfield and Elaine Quintana, Heather Grob, John and Deborah Hilts, Deborah Malamud, David Moss...

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INTRODUCTION: “A MINOR MIRACLE”

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pp. 1-16

...On September 2, 1974, Labor Day, President Gerald Ford signed the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).1 ERISA was Congress’s attempt to devise a comprehensive regulatory program to protect millions of American workers who looked to private pension plans for financial support in their retirement years...

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1. POLICY-MAKING FOR PRIVATE PENSIONS: THE GENESIS AND STRUCTURE OF A POLICY DOMAIN

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pp. 17-50

...By the time Congress passed ERISA in 1974, businesses in the United States had been pensioning employees for almost a hundred years. Over the course of a century, a few ad hoc arrangements had become a major institution of American life. The private pension system came to embrace complex networks of purposes, roles, and relationships that linked employers, unions, service providers, and millions of employees...

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2. “THE MOST GLORIOUS STORY OF FAILURE IN THE BUSINESS”: THE STUDEBAKER-PACKARD CORPORATION AND THE ORIGINS OF ERISA

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pp. 51-79

...By many accounts, the road to ERISA began in December 1963, when the Studebaker Corporation shut down its auto production plant in South Bend, Indiana. When Studebaker closed the facility, the pension plan for hourly workers did not have enough funds to meet its obligations. Retirees and retirement-eligible employees received their full pension, but the plan defaulted on its obligations to younger workers...

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3. “THE ‘BIBLE’ IN THIS FIELD”: THE PRESIDENT’S COMMITTEE ON CORPORATE PENSION FUNDS AND THE ORIGINS OF ERISA

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pp. 80-115

...January 1965, less than four months after the termination of the Studebaker pension plan, helped push the worker-security theory, the committee’s recommendations, and the broader cause of pension reform onto the congressional agenda. In the words of the leading pension reformer in Congress, Senator Jacob Javits of New York, the Cabinet Committee’s report became “the ‘bible’ in this field...

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4. “A NEW LEGISLATIVE ERA IN THIS COUNTRY”: PENSION REFORM FROM BLUEPRINT TO BILL

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pp. 116-150

...The public officials on the Cabinet Committee hoped to draft legislation based on their report, but this task posed a stubborn, though common, dilemma. The groups the committee proposed to regulate—employers and labor unions that ran private pension plans—said regulation would do more harm than good. Agency officials did not know enough about pension plans to assess these objections. And the groups...

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5. “A MAJOR AMERICAN INSTITUTION . . . BUILT UPON HUMAN DISAPPOINTMENT”: AGENDA-SETTING IN THE U.S. SENATE

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pp. 151-189

...When the Ninety-first Congress convened in January 1969, pension reformers faced a tactical problem. The Cabinet Committee had provided conceptual foundations for pension reform, and Jacob Javits and the Labor Department had proposed legislation. The problem was that the opponents of pension reform had a great deal more political clout than its supporters. If pension reform was to become a reality, reformers...

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6. A GREEN LIGHT IN THE SENATE

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pp. 190-216

...Less than a year after Russell Long killed S. 3598 and dealt Javits and Williams a bitter defeat, the Senate gave them a resounding victory. The turnabout owed everything to the Senate Labor Subcommittee’s promotional campaign. Simply put, Javits and Williams had persuaded their colleagues that Congress should pass a comprehensive pension reform bill. Soon after Congress convened, Russell Long realized...

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7. A DONNYBROOK IN THE HOUSE

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pp. 217-240

...Although there were tense moments when the Senate considered pension reform, the parties generally proceeded in a cooperative fashion.The House was another story entirely. At the behest of the AFL-CIO, John Dent sought to parlay the Labor Committee’s preemption power into exclusive jurisdiction over pension reform. This gambit led to a row with the Ways and Means Committee that stalled pension reform in the House. The standoff between the committees in turn triggered a clash...

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8. ENACTING ERISA

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pp. 241-270

...The House and Senate versions of H.R. 2 were similar in purpose and in many particulars, but there were also significant differences. Reconciling the two bills would have been difficult under any circumstances, but the conference on H.R. 2 promised to be especially trying. The issues were extraordinarily complex, the composition of the conference committee (which drew members from four committees) was very unusual, and tempers were short after the wrangle in the House. Most...

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EPILOGUE

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pp. 271-286

...As I have emphasized at many points in the book, ERISA introduced a new conceptual frame of reference for federal pension policy. Before the mid 1960s, lawmakers generally thought of pension plans as tools for managing employees. This view entailed a permissive approach to private-sector practices. In particular, the federal government left it to the parties to the employment contract—employers, employees, and unions—to establish the terms of the pension promise. In contrast...

Notes

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pp. 287-400

Index

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pp. 401-415

Production Notes

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pp. 416-416