With Congress consumed by finding a way to keep the government open for business, and the session coming near the end, the financial services industry is conceding defeat on passing a retirement security package in 2018.
Industry executives hoped to see something passed from these proposals: the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act; the Family Savings Act, and the Retirement, Savings, and Other Tax Relief Act of 2018. All are largely bipartisan efforts to make it easier for Americans to save for retirement.
Alas, it was not to be.
“We are very disappointed that Congress did not adopt comprehensive retirement security legislation despite the strong showing of bipartisan support for it in the House and Senate,” said Cathy Weatherford, Insured Retirement Institute president and CEO. “We’ve missed an opportunity to help millions of American workers prepare for a secure retirement with improved access to income that cannot be outlived during their retirement years.”
However, a new session will begin in two weeks. Already, Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, have introduced the Retirement Security & Savings Act, a broad set of reforms designed to help Americans save more for retirement and increase access to 401(k)s and other retirement plans.
The measure includes "more than 50 provisions to increase savings in 401(k)s and IRAs, help improve coverage in the small-employer market and among part-time workers, reduce barriers to lifetime income retirement options, and allow employees to keep retirement savings in an IRA or qualified plan until they need them for retirement expenses instead of being forced to deplete their savings after age 70 and a half."
Cardin and Portman have a long history of working together on retirement issues while serving in the House together. Of note, the 2001 Portman-Cardin measure more than doubled contribution limits to IRAs, allowed portability between different types of qualified retirement plans, and created the ability for older workers to make catch-up contributions to 401(k)s and IRAs.
Since it became law, 401(k) and other defined contribution plan assets increased by 179 percent and savings in IRAs, including rollovers from retirement plans, more than tripled. Overall, U.S. retirement savings have increased from $11.3 trillion in 2001 to $28.3 trillion today.
The American Council of Life Insurers is hopeful something gets done early in the new year.
"Enhancing the retirement system would help millions of Americans save for retirement and ensure their savings will last a lifetime," said Alane Dent, senior vice president, federal relations at ACLI.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @INNJohnH.
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