Republicans Sound Alarm on Administration Plan to Seize 401(k)s

In February, the White House released its “Annual Report on the Middle Class” containing new regulations favored by Big Labor including a bailout of critically underfunded union pension plans through “retirement security” options.

The radical solution most favored by Big Labor is the seizure of private 401(k) plans for government disbursement — which lets them off the hook for their collapsing retirement scheme.  And, of course, the Obama administration is eager to accommodate their buddies.

Vice President Joe Biden floated the idea, called “Guaranteed Retirement Accounts” (GRAs), in the February “Middle Class” report. 

In conjunction with the report’s release, the Obama administration jointly issued through the Departments of Labor and Treasury a “Request for Information” regarding the “annuitization” of 401(k) plans through “Lifetime Income Options” in the form of a notice to the public of proposed issuance of rules and regulations. (pdf)

House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio) and a group of House Republicans are mounting an effort to fight back. 

The American people have become painfully aware over the past year that elections sometimes have calamitous consequences.  Republicans lack the votes (for now) to reign in the Obama administration’s myriad nationalization plans for everything from health care to the automobile industry.

Now the backdoor bulls-eye is on your 401(k) plan and the trillions of dollars the government would control through seizure, regulation and federal disbursement of mandatory retirement accounts.

Boehner and the group are sounding the alarm, warning bureaucrats to keep their hands off of America’s private retirement plans. 

Just when you thought it was safe to come up for air after the government takeover of health care.

The entirety of the House GOP Savings Recovery Group letter outling the issue that was sent last night to the Labor and Treasury secretaries:

The Honorable Hilda L. Solis
Secretary
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20210

The Honorable Timothy Geithner
Secretary
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20210

Dear Secretaries Solis and Geithner:

As members of the Republican Savings Solutions Group, we write today to express our strong opposition to any proposal to eliminate or federalize private-sector defined contribution pension plans, such as 401(k)s, or impose burdensome new requirements upon the businesses, large and small, who choose to offer these plans to their employees.

In the Annual Report of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, Vice President Biden discussed at length the creation of so-called “Guaranteed Retirement Accounts, (GRAs)” which would provide for protection from “inflation and market risk” and potentially “guarantee a specified real return above the rate of inflation” — presumably at taxpayer expense.  In the Report, the Vice President recommended “further study of these issues.”

The Vice President’s comments are troubling, insofar as they come on the heels of testimony before Congress from supporters of GRAs proposing to eliminate the favorable tax treatment currently afforded to 401(k) plans, and instead use those dollars to fund government-invested GRAs into which all employees would be required to contribute a portion of their salary — again, with a government subsidy.  These advocates would, essentially, dismantle the present private-sector 401(k) system, replacing it instead with a government-run investment plan, the size and scope of which remain to be seen.  This despite data showing that 90 percent of households have a favorable opinion of the existing 401(k)/IRA system.

In light of these facts, we write today to express our opposition in the strongest terms to any effort to “nationalize” the private 401(k) system, or any proposal that would dismantle or disfavor the private 401(k) system in favor of a government-run retirement security regime.

Similarly, and more recently, the Departments of Labor and Treasury have jointly issued a “Request for Information” regarding the “annuitization” of 401(k) plans through “Lifetime Income Options.”  While we appreciate the Departments’ seeking guidance and information from all parties and stakeholders in advance of regulatory activity, we strongly urge that the Departments not proceed with any regulation in this area before they have carefully and thoroughly considered all of the information received.

More specifically, we urge that the Departments take no action to mandate that plan sponsors — often, small businesses — include a “lifetime income” or “annuitization” option if they choose to offer a 401(k) plan to their employees, or that beneficiaries take some or all of their retirement savings in such an option.  Data shows that 70 percent of Americans oppose the concept of a mandated annuity or government payout of their 401(k) plan. On a more fundamental level, Congress should not be in the business of choosing “winners” and “losers” among retirement security stakeholders.  Instead, we urge the Departments to make it easier for employers to include retirement income solutions in their savings plans and to help workers learn more about the value of their retirement savings as a source of retirement income.  Finally, to the extent new mandates and bureaucratic red tape from Washington push small employers out of the business of offering these plans to their employees, we would submit such an effort weakens, rather than strengthens retirement security. 

We appreciate your consideration of our views in these important matters and stand ready to work with you and the Administration to promote secure and adequate retirement savings for all Americans. 

Sincerely,

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH)
Rep. John Kline (R-MN)
Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI)
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX)
Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV)
Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY)
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)
Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH)
Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH)
Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN)
Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS)
Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA)
Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA)

Sign Up
  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_367PVJLO5SY32WGOQX6QJDBFVI Gb Williams

    What a waste of time. “annuitization” of 401(k) plans through “Lifetime Income Options” All 401k plans have this option now. John Boehner and the others listed are just using political scare tactics. There is nothing on record other than Professor Theresa Guilarducci radical suggestions at a hearing in 2008. She wrote a book in 2007. Big deal. Why haven’t we heard anything about this in the news papers, TV or radio? Or any reports coming from Washington? With real facts. Its only on the Internet that John Boehner and his cronies are willing to spread these political lies. You fabricate information and rise up to defeat what was never there. We need better from you John Boehner.
    An OHIO resident.

  • Trikke

    You are an idiot! You have not heard about this in the alphabet media for the same reason you never heard anything negative about obama for the last 4 years through the alphabet media. They are COVERING FOR HIM! Wake up!

  • PizzaRoyalty

    This has been coming for years. You just need to look beyond the msm and fish around some Libertarian web sites. Surprise!!! lol Here is your hope and change. :) This has been on the books since Obama’s first year in office.

    We are always a day late or make that several years…here is your brilliant Republican response… “House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio) and a group of House Republicans are mounting an effort to fight back.” Pleasseeeeeee……as if they didn’t know…..lol….they will water down a deal…prepare to take your medicine.

  • American Kafir

    Senator Tom Harkin’s plan to universalize retirement plans
    http://www.harkin.senate.gov/documents/pdf/5011b69191eb4.pdf