Dems call for Obama to expand retirement help
By Rachael Bade
More than 60 House Democrats are urging President Barack Obama to require all federal contractors to automatically enroll employees in their companies' retirement plans, an effort led by Democratic caucus Vice Chair Joe Crowley (D-N.Y).
In a copy of the letter obtained by POLITICO, that will go to the White House today, more than 65 Democrats are asking Obama to make the new requirement apply to full- and part-time workers. And companies that partner with Uncle Sam but don’t have pensions or 401(k) options should use a new government-run retirement savings plan the administration started recently, they say.
“We need to address the retirement security crisis in America, and we can start at work,” Crowley (D-N.Y) said in a statement that will be released later today. “With nearly half of all workers not having access to a retirement plan through their employer, and many more either not eligible for their employer’s plan or not aware of their employer-provided options, fewer than 10 percent of those workers are contributing to a savings account on their own. We need to take steps now to reverse this trend.”
If implemented, the new program would build on Obama’s previous executive orders aimed at helping those who work for the federal government. Obama has, for example, boosted minimum wage requirements for contractors to more than $10 an hour, and issued discrimination protections for gays and lesbians. But Democrats say that “more must be done to cover the millions of American workers who have no access to employer-sponsored retirement savings plans.”
They think Obama should start with his own employees, capitalizing on his executive branch power and "setting an example" for other companies.
The letter suggests that if companies do not have pensions or 401(k) plans, they should auto-enroll their employees in the new government-run savings plan the White House started in recent years, called “my Retirement Account.” That program offers employees without access to retirement plans a place to start saving for retirement.
“In an economy that’s ever changing and as employment habits shift, we should find ways to ensure our policies continue to meet the needs of workers,” the letter reads. “These proposals provide the flexibility workers and employers need, while addressing some of the root causes that lead to a lack of savings.”
The Friday letter includes signatures from leadership, as well as members hailing from the liberal and moderate ends of the caucus, including House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, Reps. Steve Israel of New York, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, Danny Davis of Illinois, and Raul Grijalva of Arizona.
Retirement issues have been a key Crowley priority. Last April, he unveiled a blueprint to start a new child savings program, make Obama's “my Retirement Account” permanent and create a new universal pension program.’
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/05/democrats-obama-retirement-help-222893#ixzz47tknm9yU