Here's The Message: Make The Pension System Work

'The crying game over pensions" (Finance, Apr. 5) is misleading. I didn't say that I wanted the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. to be a private-sector company but that it should be managed like one. That is why PBGC has worked hard over the past four years to achieve proper insurance incentives to reduce losses, plus a solvent balance sheet, auditable financial accounts, a new investment strategy, and better customer services.

Apparently, the private-sector management approach was threatening to some of the "inside the Beltway" crowd who believe in the status quo of large subsidies from the responsible to the irresponsible. They exaggerate my use of the savings and loan association analogy as a way to discredit this effort to reform the PBGC. I carefully said that PBGC's problem is not as big or as immediate as the S&L crisis. The point of the analogy is that Congress should learn from that crisis and fix PBGC's flaws before the downward spiral accelerates.

As the article correctly points out, the real issue is that PBGC needs to be reformed. The Clinton Administration should follow the lead of Representative J.J. Pickle (D-Tex.) and get on with strengthening the pension net that supports 41 million Americans.

James B. Lockhart III

Managing Director

Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co.

New York

Editor's note: The writer was executive director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. in the Bush Administration.