Obama: Americans need help saving for retirement

Obama: Americans need help saving for retirement
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President Obama reiterated the government’s role in helping Americans save for retirement Monday, calling for new policies at the state and federal level.

Speaking before a White House conference on aging, Obama called on the federal government and states to make it much easier for Americans to put away money for retirement, and renewed his call to crack down on investment advisers that do not act in their clients’ best interests.

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The president, noting that he was aging in “dog years” at the White House and would soon be in his own “golden years,” announced plans to develop rules that would make it easier for states to provide their own retirement saving programs.

Obama said that roughly a third of workers do not have access to a retirement plan through their employer, and too few save in outside individual retirement accounts instead. Several states have established their own retirement programs, and Obama said he had directed the Labor Department to write new rules helping to streamline that process for the rest.

 The president called it “perverse” that the wealthy in this country have easy access to a host of investment opportunities, while Americans that need it the most often are left lacking.

“It is just easier to save if you’ve already got money,” he said. “There are a lot of folks out there who work really, really hard, and at the end of the day don’t have enough of a nest egg.”

The president also underlined his push to establish new rules that would requirement retirement investment advisers to act solely for the benefit of their clients. The administration has touted the so-called “fiduciary duty” requirement as a common sense way to make sure advisers do not recommend improper investments that yield them hefty commissions.

But the business community and some lawmakers have questioned the initiative, arguing it could drive out advisers often relied upon by lower income Americans. The Labor Department proposed the rule in April, and is accepting public comment on it until the end of July. Republican lawmakers have proposed a provision in a measure funding the Labor Department that would bar the rulemaking.

The president also touted his efforts to require employers to automatically enroll their employees in an IRA if they do not offer their own retirement savings plan. The president has pushed the idea in recent budget proposals, but they have failed to garner momentum in Congress.