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To the House of Representatives:
I am returning today without my approval, H.R. 15301, a bill which would finance a long-standing deficit in the Railroad Retirement System at the expense of the general taxpayer.
The Railroad Retirement System, under current law, is headed toward bankruptcy by the mid-1980s. This condition arises largely because benefits have been increased 68 percent since 1970 without requiring the beneficiaries of the system, railroad employees and employers, to pay the added costs.
This bill proposes to solve the financial problems of the Railroad Retirement System by placing a seven billion dollar burden on the general taxpayer, requiring him to contribute $285 million to the Railroad Retirement Trust Fund each year for the next twenty-five years. In return for his seven billion dollar contribution, the general taxpayer would earn no entitlement to benefits and would receive no return on his investment.
At a time when the taxpayer is already carrying the double burden of taxes and inflation, legislation such as this is most inappropriate.
Recognizing the financial straits of the Railroad Retirement System, the Executive Branch in 1970 proposed and the Congress authorized an independent study of the System. After eighteen months of careful work, the study group recommended that the benefits be financed * * * * on an assured, fully self-supporting basis by contributions from the railroad community through the crisis period of the next 20 to 30 years and then beyond.”
Following receipt of the report, the Congress directed representatives of railroad employees and management to submit their combined recommendations for restoring financial soundness to the System, taking into account the report and the specific recommendations of the Commission.
The bill which is now before me is true neither to the recommendation of the Commission nor to the charge placed on the industry by the Congress.
Forcing the general taxpayer to carry an unfair burden is not the only defect in this bill. It would also establish a special investment procedure for the Railroad Retirement Trust Fund.
Under the bill, the interest paid by the Treasury on Railroad Retirement investments and Federal securities would rise when interest rates increase but would not fall when they decrease. This "heads I win; tails you lose” arrangement, with the taxpayer being the loser, has been suggested before, but never adopted. It should not be a part of the solution to the Railroad Retirement System's financial problem.
Furthermore, the provisions of the benefit formula are so complex that they would be extremely difficult to administer and virtually impossible to explain to the persons who are supposed to benefit from it.
Now is the time to simplify the benefit structure of the Railroad Retirement System, not make it more complex. Splitting administrative responsibility between the Railroad Retirement System and the Social Security System over benefits that depend on entitlement under the Social Security Act is bad law. Full responsibility for administering Social Security benefits should be vested in the Social Security Administration, not divided among agencies with resultant uncertainty as to who should be held accountable.
I believe it is our obligation to the general taxpayer to see that the problems of this system are overcome by the industry and people it serves—those who have benefitted from it in the past and will continue to receive its benefits in the future. Other industries other parts of the transportation industry-pay for their own pension systems. There is no justification for singling out the railroads for special treatment.
There are only two ways this obligation can be met-by increasing revenues or by limiting benefits or by a combination of both. Administration spokesmen have proposed constructive ways to achieve this goal, but our proposals have not received serious consideration by the Congress.
We are in need of a better railroad retirement system and a financially sound one. This bill does not meet that need. I urge the Congress to reconsider that need and to develop a new bill which is fair to the taxpayers as well as to the beneficiaries of the Railroad Retirement System. This Administration stands ready to help in any way it can.
GERALD R. FORD. THE WHITE HOUSE, October 12, 1974.
H. R. 15301
AT THE SECOND SESSION
one thousand nine hundred and seventy-four
To amend the Railroad Retirement Act of 1937 to revise the retirement system
for employees of employers covered thereunder, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
TITLE I–THE RAILROAD RETIREMENT ACT OF 1974
That the Railroad Retirement Act of 1937 is amended to read as follows:
"DEFINITIONS “SECTION 1. For the purposes of this Act"(a)(1) The term 'employer'shall include
"(i) any express company, sleeping-car company, and carrier by railroad, subject to part I of the Interstate Commerce Act;
"(ii) any company which is directly or indirectly owned or controlled by, or under common control with, one or more employers as defined in paragraph (i) of this subdivision, and which operates any equipment or facility or performs any service (except trucking service, casual service, and the casual operation of equipment or facilities) in connection with the transportation of passengers or property by railroad, or the receipt, delivery, elevation, transfer in transit, refrigeration or icing, storage, or handling of property transported by railroad;
“(iii) any receiver, trustee, or other individual or body, judicial or otherwise, when in the possession of the property or operating all or any part of the business of any employer as defined in paragraph (i) or (ii) of this subdivision;
"(iv) any railroad association, traffic association, tariff bureau, demurrage bureau, weighing and inspection bureau, collection agency, and any other association, bureau, agency, or organization which is controlled and maintained wholly or principally by two or more employers as defined in paragraph (i), (ii), or (iii) of this subdivision and which is engaged in the performance of services in connection with or incidental to railroad transportation; and
“(v) any railway labor organization, national in scope, which has been or may be organized in accordance with the provisions of the Railway Labor Act, as amended, and its State and National legislative committees, general committees, insurance departments, and local lodges and divisions, established pursuant to the constitution or bylaws of such organization.
“(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (1) of this subsection, the term employer shall not include
“(i) any company by reason of its being engaged in the mining of coal, the supplying of coal to an employer where delivery is not beyond the mine tipple, and the operation of equipment or facilities therefor, or in any of such activities; and
“(ii) any street, interurban, or suburban electric railway, unless such railway is operating as a part of a general dieselrailroad system of transportation, but shall not exclude any part of the general diesel-railroad system of transportation now or hereafter operated by any other motive power. The Interstate Commerce Commission is hereby authorized and directed upon request of the Board, or upon complaint of any party interested, to determine after hearing whether any line operated by electric power falls within the terms of this
paragraph. “(b) (1) The term “employee' means (i) any individual in the service of one or more employers for compensation, (ii) any individual who is in the employment relation to one or more employers, and (iii) an employee representative: Provided, however, That the term 'employee' shall include an employee of a local lodge or division defined as an employer in subsection (a) only if he was in the service of or in the employment relation to an employer as defined in paragraph (i) of subsection (a) (1) on or after August 29, 1935.
“(2) The term 'employee shall not include any individual while such individual is engaged in the physical operations consisting of the mining of coal, the preparation of coal, the handling (other than movement by rail with standard railroad locomotives) of coal not beyond the mine tipple, or the loading of coal at the tipple.
"(c) The term 'employee representative' means any officer or official representative of a railway labor organization other than a labor organization included in the term "employer' as defined in subsection (a) who before or after August 29, 1935, was in the service of an employer as defined in subsection (a) and who is duly authorized and designated to represent employees in accordance with the Railway Labor Act, as amended, and any individual who is regularly assigned to or regularly employed by such officer or official representative in connection with the duties of his office.
"(d) (1) An individual is in the service of an employer whether his service is rendered within or without the United States if
“(i)(A) he is subject to the continuing authority of the employer to supervise and direct the manner of rendition of his service, or (B) he is rendering professional or technical services and is integrated into the staff of the employer, or (C) he is rendering, on the property used in the employer's operations, personal services the rendition of which is integrated into the employer's operations; and
"(ii) he renders such service for compensation, or a method of computing the monthly compensation for such service is provided in section 3(j).
“(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (1) of this subsection
"(i) an individual shall be deemed to be in the service of an employer, other than a local lodge or division or a general committee of a railway-labor-organization employer, not conducting the principal part of its business in the United States only when he is rendering service to it in the United States;
“(ii) an individual shall be deemed to be in the service of a local lodge or division of a railway-labor-organization employer not conducting the principal part of its business in the United States only if (A) all, or substantially all, the individuals constituting the membership of such local lodge or division are employees of an employer conducting the principal part of its business in the United States; or (B) the headquarters of such local lodge or division is located in the United States; and
"(iii) an individual shall be deemed to be in the service of a general committee of a railway-labor-organization employer not conducting the principal part of its business in the United States only if (A) he is representing a local lodge or division described in clause (A) or (B) of paragraph (ii); or (B) all, or substantially all, the individuals represented by such general committee are employees of an employer conducting the principal part of its business in the United States; or (C) he acts in the capacity of a general chairman or an assistant general chairman of a general committee which represents individuals rendering service in the United States to an employer, but in such case if his office or headquarters is not located in the United States and the individuals represented by such general committee are employees of an employer not conducting the principal part of its business in the United States, only such proportion of the remuneration for such service shall be regarded as compensation as the proportion which the mileage in the United States under the jurisdiction of such general committee bears to the total mileage under its jurisdiction, unless such mileage formula is inapplicable, in which case the Board may prescribe such other formula as it finds to be equitable, and if the application of such mileage formula, or such other formula as the Board may prescribe, would result in the compensation of the individual being less than 10 per centum of his remuneration for such service no part of such
remuneration shall be regarded as compensation. “(3) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivisions (1) and (2) of this subsection, an individual not a citizen or resident of the United States shall not be deemed to be in the service of an employer when rendering service outside the United States to an employer who is required under the laws applicable in the place where the service is rendered to employ therein, in whole or in part, citizens or residents thereof. For purposes of this subdivision, the laws applicable on August 29, 1935, in the place where the service is rendered shall be deemed to have been applicable there at all times prior to that date.
“(e) (1) An individual shall be deemed to have been in the employment relation to an employer on Angust 29, 1935, if
“(i) he was on that date on leave of absence from his employment, expressly granted to him by the employer by whom he was employed, or by a duly authorized representative of such