What portion of all private defined-benefit pension plan assets are insured against default by the federal government?
The federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) insures 98% of all private defined-benefit pension plan assets. These are mostly union pension plans, and some are significantly underfunded. Bailouts of these plans are currently financed by insurance premiums paid by all of the pension plans, but according to recent testimony by the director of the PBGC, these premiums "are only a small fraction of the amounts PBGC will need to support the guaranteed benefits of participants in plans expected to become insolvent during the next decade." Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio has introduced legislation to loan taxpayer money to these plans and then forgive the loans if the plans can't pay the money back.