Obama Taking On Retirement-Savings Shortfall In 2017 Budget

The budget will reportedly require employers without 401(k)s to set up an auto-enrollment individual retirement account for workers.
Katie Kuehner-HebertJanuary 26, 2016

President Barack Obama will include in his fiscal year 2017 budget a package of proposals to make it easier for workers to get access to retirement plans from their employers, Pensions & Investments reported Tuesday.

“We have to promote new retirement security opportunities and test new models,” National Economic Council Director Jeff Zients said during a press briefing call with Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez.

The budget, which will be unveiled Feb. 9, will include a requirement that every employer not currently offering a retirement savings program, like a 401(k), to set up an auto-enrollment individual retirement account for workers. To offset the cost, the startup credit that employers receive for offering a retirement plan would be tripled.

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The budget package also will propose a $100 million grant pilot program to determine how best to reach self-employed or those with stop-and-start work patterns, as well as a pilot program to encourage states to develop their own private-sector programs to increase access.

Obama will also call for making it easier for employers to join multiple-employer plans by relaxing some of the requirements, such as having a common interest.

“These items should not be particularly controversial,” Perez said, as both Republicans and Democrats have expressed concern about the lack of retirement security for millions of workers.

The proposals have been part of the president’s budget in the past, but officials said they hoped Republicans would support it this time, according to the New York Times. The budget will also seek funding for pilot programs that would provide new ways for people who change jobs to shift their retirement savings into programs offered by their new employers.