• Statement from the National Mining Association in Response to the Release of the Government Accountability Office’s Black Lung Benefits Program Report

Statement from the National Mining Association in Response to the Release of the Government Accountability Office’s Black Lung Benefits Program Report

WASHINGTON, D.C. The Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) report on the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund is notable in what it consciously omits, rather than what it actually says. Revenues from the coal tax are more than sufficient to fund benefits payments and the administration of the fund – and will continue to be at the new rate planned for January 1, 2019. The report omits any examination of the government’s policy changes and management choices that forced the Fund to borrow to cover additional and enhanced benefit claims.

The report itself notes, “Since fiscal year 1990, revenue has generally exceeded combined benefit payments and administrative costs.” Borrowing is necessary not to cover claims but for the government to essentially repay itself for legacy debt from the 70s and 80s. Industry should not be subject to a tax increase due to government mismanagement of a program, and the resulting debt the government now owes itself.

Importantly, as the Department of Labor has noted, contrary to suggestions in flawed reporting, there is no risk of any beneficiary losing benefits.

 

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