Employer groups oppose pension fees in budget deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Employers that still offer workers traditional pension plans are in line for hefty insurance premium increases under the budget agreement struck in Congress.

It's the second time in two years that lawmakers have turned to those plans to help finance spending deals.

Business groups warn that the increases will only encourage more employers to freeze their pension plans or close them to new employees. The increases would come on top of a $9 billion boost in pension premiums that Congress approved last year.

The estimated $8 billion in new premiums would go toward reducing deficits by a government agency, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., that covers pension payments to retirees when bankrupt companies can't.

Supporters of the fee increases say they're crucial to keeping the agency solvent.