Playing politics with government retirement funds
One of the federal governments largest assets is the $500 billion or so employees have invested in the Thrift Savings Plan. Worryingly, all that cash sitting in the federal employee retirement plan has some politicians dreaming of what sort of political ends it could help them achieve:
The half-trillion dollar Thrift Savings Plan is the largest defined-contribution retirement plan in the world. But those charged with overseeing it say politicizing any of its investment decisions risks its overall financial health.
Democrats want to use it to go after fossil fuel companies. Republicans want to bar Chinese-owned firms getting any money.
The Democratic chairman of the Senate committee overseeing the fund — and which will consider President Biden’s new nominees to the board running it — feels any effort to use the TSP to advance policy goals is misguided…
Indeed it is. Political meddling in retirement funds is an invitation for mischief. So why is it happening?
Biden last week nominated four new members of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which oversees the Thrift Savings Plan.
Progressives are pushing for Biden’s nominees to divest the fund’s assets from fossil fuel companies. The Revolving Door Project, a progressive good-government group, called on one of the nominees to “rise to the occasion” and lead that effort.
Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) requested a study this year on the feasibility of that fossil fuel divestment. Hassan is a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, which will consider Biden’s new nominees.
Merkley subsequently introduced legislation pushing divestment. He told The Daily Poster last week he has pressed the Biden administration “to ensure that divestment is a priority for appointees to the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.”
The whole point of a retirement fund is to maximize returns for those who will one day depend on that money to make ends meet. It’s not to send political messages, or score cheap political points, for team red or team blue.