Forbes: Economics professor says new retirement bill is ‘not enough’

The Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2021, also known as “SECURE” or “SECURE 2.0,” was recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 414-5. The new bill makes various changes with respect to employer-sponsored retirement plans, including the institution of automatic enrollment of employees in certain plans and increasing the age at which participants are required to begin receiving mandatory distributions.

This is likely to help assist in future issues related to Americans’ generally insufficient retirement savings, but does not go far enough in addressing several root problems according to Teresa Ghilarducci, labor economist and retirement security expert at The New School in New York City.

While lauding the act of bipartisanship in the House and describing the bill as a “first-step” in retirement reform, Ghilarducci explains that the new legislation simply doesn’t go far enough.

“What does anyone need from a pension system?,” she asks rhetorically. “You need to save consistently; you need enough money in that plan; you need that money invested well at low fees; and you need the money for life. SECURE 2.0 doesn’t give you any of that. But SECURE 2.0 is a a first step—auto enrollment and auto escalation in particular, anything to get people saving for the long run and for a long time.”

The fear many Americans have about their ability to support themselves in retirement is well-established. Ghilarducci cites several statistics that reinforce that point.

“82% of American voters believe that retirement security is a problem for the country according to the Retirement Security and Wealth Attitudes National Voter Survey by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG), which also found that 91% of voters agree that all working Americans should have the ability to participate in a retirement savings plan,” she says. “The fear is well founded.”

As much as 41% of households are projected to run into financing shortfalls in retirement, according to data from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), she says. On top of that, retirement security is less attainable for Americans earning less money during their careers, including those without college degrees, women and people of color, based on data from the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC).

“With the House recognizing that retirement security is a pressing national issue in passing SECURE 2.0, and the Senate likely to move on companion legislation this summer, I urge the Congress to build on that legislation with a tool which would complement both the current private retirement system as well as the proposed SECURE 2.0 legislative package,” she says.

Both she and Kevin Hassett, former Senior Advisor and Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Trump administration, have collaborated on a plan published by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG) which would, “give most people without a retirement plan access to the same professionally-managed options in the federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)—the retirement savings plan offered to government employees and Members of Congress, and provide a government match to their contributions.”

Ghilarducci has previously described her perspective on reverse mortgage products for RMD.

Read the column at Forbes.

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