Rising Risks for Retirement Savers

In Economy, Social Security and Retirement On

As America’s population ages, opportunities for a secure retirement should increase. But the opposite is happening. And things are likely to get worse in the Trump years.

A measure passed recently by congressional Republicans and awaiting President Trump’s all-but-certain signature will reverse a rule, passed in the last year of the Obama administration, allowing cities and counties to organize savings plans for private-sector workers who have no employer-provided retirement coverage. Another measure, blocking states from sponsoring similar retirement savings plans, was passed by the House in February. The Senate and Mr. Trump would be wise to let that measure die. If it is enacted, 13 million people — a sizable portion of the 55 million Americans who don’t have company retirement plans — would be denied access to payroll-deduction individual retirement accounts.

People who already have retirement plans also have cause for worry. On Wednesday, the Labor Department carried out Mr. Trump’s directive to delay the April 10 effective date of a federal rule that requires financial advisers to put a client’s interest before their own when giving advice or selling investments related to 401(k) rollovers and other retirement transactions. The rule, known as the “best interest” or “fiduciary” standard, would protect 401(k) savers from being steered into overly expensive strategies and products when they retire. All of these rules were carefully researched and written. All are much needed. And all are being tampered with for one reason only: The financial industry does not want them because it makes tens of billions of dollars a year under a status quo in which its products and practices are the only game in town for retirement savers. This means that what congressional Republicans and Mr. Trump are doing is looking for ways to line Wall Street’s pockets with the retirement savings of working people.

The result will be continuing hardship for retirees.

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