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The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974A Political History$
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James Wooten

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520242739

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520242739.001.0001

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Introduction: “A Minor Miracle”

Introduction: “A Minor Miracle”

(p.1) Introduction: “A Minor Miracle”
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974

James A. Wooten

University of California Press

On Labor Day, President Gerald Ford signed the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The enactment of ERISA presents a political puzzle. The political history of ERISA provides benchmarks for gauging how well current law suits emerging needs and an important counterpoint to the conventional wisdom about policy-making in the United States Congress. ERISA recast the federal government’s role in the private pension system. ERISA reflected a new conceptual framework for pension policymaking—the worker-security theory. Union officials who opposed pension reform used a related argument that stressed the economic constraints on the employment relationship. Jacob Javits’ tactics did not prevent members of Congress from exercising independent judgment in their consideration of pension reform legislation.

Keywords:   Employee Retirement Income Security Act, political history, legislation, policy-making, United States Congress, Jacob Javits, pension reform, federal government

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