Trump must tackle the financial issues of Main Street Americans

More than 200 days into Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpWSJ: Trump ignored advice to confront Putin over indictments Trump hotel charging Sean Spicer ,000 as book party venue Bernie Sanders: Trump 'so tough' on child separations but not on Putin MORE’s presidency, we now have a clear answer on whom his administration will serve: Wall Street and corporations. Gone are his promises from the campaign trail to help struggling American families. At every opportunity, his administration has rolled back any small progress that’s been made over the last few years to help Americans prepare for retirement.

A recent survey by the National Institute on Retirement Security found that 76 percent of Americans are concerned about their ability to have economic security in retirement. There are some likely reasons. First, almost 45 percent of Americans are offered no retirement plan through their employer. That means, even if a worker wants to be saving for their retirement, their employer offers no way for them to do that. Second, 401(k)s have failed to provide adequate retirement security for most American families.

ADVERTISEMENT
To address the first problem — lack of access to a retirement savings account — the federal government and some states began working on solutions. Under the Obama administration, the myRA savings program was developed. These cost-free accounts were available to any employee who did not already get a plan through work.

 

No minimum balances were required, and no fees were sent off to Wall Street at the expense of the saver. In fact, that’s probably why the program was targeted and eliminated by the Trump administration. If Wall Street can’t take a bite out of the savings of working Americans, what’s the point of a program?

Unfortunately, the elimination of myRA is just one of a series of actions designed to hurt working men and women across this country. States from California to Illinois to Washington began to develop their own savings programs, many known as Secure Choice plans. These plans were designed to serve people who have no other option for retirement savings through work. Yet Trump, this time along with Congress, targeted regulations that helped states make these plans available.

The fiduciary rule, too, has been delayed by the administration. This rule was designed to force Wall Street brokers to invest in the best interests of the client — the working man or woman investing hard-earned savings. A trade association representing the financial industry has already successfully postponed the rule until 2018 and is asking for further delay until 2020. Wall Street would rather keep your money in their pockets, and so far, Trump has been happy to go along with their plan.

Trump has also targeted the men and women of the federal government — the folks who maintain our national parks, disseminate Social Security checks, and keep the homeland safe. His budget would ask them to pay more out of pocket for a lesser benefit in retirement. There are better policy options available to Trump and his administration.

They could be looking at ways to strengthen and improve Social Security, a system millions of Americans will rely on for their retirement. They could be encouraging states to expand Secure Choice plans or experiment with other models. But they’re not. They are focused on directing money back to Wall Street. And you and I will pay the price.

Bailey Childers is executive director of the National Public Pension Coalition.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.