Tom Geoghegan in Harpers:
First, we removed the possibility of creating real, binding contracts by allowing employers to bust the unions that had been entering into these agreements for millions of people. Second, we allowed those same employers to cancel existing contracts, virtually at will, by transferring liability from one corporate shell to another, or letting a subsidiary go into Chapter 11 and then moving to "cancel" the contract rights, including lifetime health benefits and pensions.
PACT stands for Prepaid Affordable College Tuition. This program — until last week believed to be supported by the State of Alabama and certainly marketed as if — provides the opportunity to pay by installment or purchase outright a contract that will cover tuition and mandatory fees at an instate college or university [the same amount on average of these costs at Alabama state schools can be used at a private or other state institution] for a child who has not yet completed 9th grade. The idea is that the fund will invest the money over the years before the child enrolls in college in such a way that the money paid will meet future college costs. In the past year and a half, the fund has lost 46% of its value, and now it is beginning to look like the program will implode.