Worried that new pension funding requirements that take effect next year could cripple corporations, business and finance officials say they can't wait for president-elect Barack Obama and the 111th Congress to be sworn in. So they are pressing lame duck legislators to convene this month and stall implementation of some Pension Protection Act (PPA) provisions until the markets stabilize and credit is more widely available.

The double-whammy of plunging pension assets and the credit crunch put plan sponsors "in an untenable position" when it comes to meeting full funding requirements, a number of business organizations said in a joint letter to congressional leaders. "At a time when companies need cash to keep their businesses afloat, they are also required to make unexpectedly large contributions to their plans in order to meet funding requirements," states the letter signed by the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) and Financial Executives International (FEI), among other organizations.

As a result, companies could be forced to freeze or terminate their plans or reduce retirement benefit accruals to survive. "We do not believe that in enacting the PPA, Congress intended companies to be forced to make this kind of decision," write the signatories, including the Business Roundtable and the Chamber of Commerce.

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