I understand the pressures that are prompting companies to abandon retiree health care benefits and even pension plans. The inflation in medical costs–and in prescription drug costs, in particular–is a hard pill for any company to swallow, if you will forgive the play on words. But simply abandoning benefits with the attitude that the government will pick up the slack seems, at best, short-sighted and, at worst, irresponsible. At some point in time, companies voluntarily offered these benefits. If employees needed them then, why not now?

Corporate America has considerable influence, and its members should be using that power to work toward a solution that will not leave this country hobbled by a generation of impoverished older Americans. As a group, executives are free to address needs, not politics and design a solution that is based on good sense, not ideology. Unfortunately, too many business groups seem to spend their lobbying dollars on trying to stop things from happening rather than working to fix problems.