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As part of the budget deal approved in December, Congress increased the premiums that companies with pension plans pay to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC). The increases follow closely on the heels of premium hikes enacted as part of a transportation bill in 2011 (the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, or MAP-21), and critics argue the higher premiums could lead more companies to lower the number of participants in their plans by buying annuities for some participants or offering lump-sum buyouts.

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