In Iowa’s Interest: A Plan to Shore Up Retirement Security for Iowans Print
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Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 10:14

If you work hard and play by the rules, you deserve the opportunity to enjoy your golden years with dignity and financial independence. That is the American Dream.  But after countless conversations with Iowans worried about their future, I can tell you the dream of a secure retirement is slipping out of reach.

Half of Americans have less than $10,000 in savings. The retirement savings deficit – that is, the difference between what people have saved for retirement and what they should have saved at this point – has grown to a staggering $6.6 trillion. In Iowa, this trend is especially alarming. Only 32 percent of Iowans estimate that they will have enough money to live on when they stop working.

There is strong public support for retirement system reform and numerous studies and polls demonstrate that Americans are concerned about retirement security and want access to better options. A recent poll found that 85 percent of Americans are worried about their retirement prospects, and 84 percent say that all Americans should have access to a pension to be self-sufficient in retirement.

That is why I recently introduced the USA Retirement Funds Act, a bill to give millions of Americans without a workplace retirement plan the opportunity to earn a safe, secure pension benefit. The concept is simple. Employers who do not offer a pension or a well-designed 401(k) would automatically enroll their employees in a USA Retirement Fund.  Participation would be voluntary and workers who want to opt out would be free to do so. USA Retirement Funds would give middle class families the opportunity to earn a secure retirement benefit that they take with them as they change jobs and that they cannot outlive.

USA Retirement Funds would be good for business, especially small businesses. Small business owners think of their employees like family, and they want their employees to be able to retire.  But for most, setting up a pension is just too complicated and time-consuming. With USA Retirement Funds, employers would simply help their employees enroll in a fund and send along the contributions. They could also contribute to their employees’ retirement savings if they want.

USA Retirement Funds would not be a new government program.  It would be a new type of 21st-century retirement plan that would be run entirely by the private sector, just like pensions and 401(k)s. USA Retirements Funds are not intended to replace 401(k)s or existing employer-provided plans. Rather, they are aimed at helping the 70 million Americans who lack access to a retirement plan at the workplace.

We are facing a retirement crisis, and we cannot continue to ignore it. My USA Retirement Funds Act would help millions of people earn a safe and secure pension and would restore the dream of a secure retirement for middle class families in Iowa and around the country.

A bill snapshot, two-page summary and a list of frequently asked questions are available online. Visit Senator Harkin’s website at, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter

A PDF version of this article can be found here.


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