A cursory glance at mainstream news coverage since the election could give one the impression that there exists a deep political divide in this country. However, a new study reveals that there is one issue that Americans from all political parties seem to agree on: the challenge of saving for retirement. Indeed, the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) found that across party lines, around three in four surveyed U.S. adults said that they are concerned about their ability to achieve a secure retirement. Specifically, 78 percent of Democrats and 76 percent of Republicans said that current economic conditions are “impacting their ability to achieve a secure retirement.”
Ninety-two percent of Democrats and 88 percent of Republicans also reported that they believe the nation is facing a retirement crisis, and a majority from both political affiliations expressed doubts that leaders in Washington understand just how difficult it is to adequately prepare for retirement (82 percent for Democrats and 88 percent for Republicans). Moreover, 86 percent of all surveyed Americans agreed that leaders in Washington need to give a higher priority to ensuring that more Americans can have a secure retirement (98 percent for Democrats and 82 percent for Republicans). Such concerns are especially important now that we have a new administration and Congress that together are expected to pursue a major overhaul of the U.S. tax system and federal budget, which has the potential to significantly alter how private-sector retirement plans are handled by the tax code.
In fact, industry experts also have doubts about D.C. policymakers’ capabilities, as evidenced by Will Hansen, senior vice president of retirement policy with the ERISA Industry Committee, who at the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s (EBRI’s) annual policy forum said that a key problem is that “so few members of Congress and their staff know much about current federal law governing private-sector retirement plans.” Hansen added that “there are probably five Capitol Hill staffers who know what ERISA is,” and stressed that “we have to educate our policymakers on the importance of retirement security and we have to do it very quickly because with tax reform potentially coming down the pike within a matter of months I think we just need to play defense in order to protect a lot of those tax preference rules and regulations that we have in place.”
Sources: NIRS, EBRIPost author: Charles Couch