Retirement benefits are front and center on the policy agendas of employee benefit groups as Congress and President Obama negotiate a deal to solve the nation's fiscal crisis during the final weeks of 2012.

The American Benefits Council said it was asking Congress during the legislature's present lame-duck session to consider a six-point policy agenda that ABC said would help employers maintain their defined benefit plans and promote job creation and retirement security.

ABC said enactment of the provisions in its agenda would generate billions of dollars in tax revenue by making permanent changes in statutory interest rates used to calculate the minimum amounts that defined benefit plan sponsors must contribute to their employees' tax-deferred pension trust funds.

The six-point agenda called for the interest rate corridor that applies in 2012 under temporary pension funding stabilization rules in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) (Pub. L. No. 112-141) to become permanent.

Another employee benefit group, the ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC), said it has a less-detailed policy agenda for the lame-duck session.

“This lame duck is scarier than most because of everything that is at stake,” Kathryn Ricard, ERIC's senior vice president for retirement policy, said Dec. 5 in an interview with BNA.