GOP Weighs In on Administration’s Retirement Proposals, Annuity RFI

The House GOP Savings Recovery Solutions Group wrote to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to oppose proposals that would affect private-sector defined contribution retirement plans.

The letter noted that in the Annual Report of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, Vice President Joseph Biden discussed at length the creation of guaranteed retirement accounts (GRAs), which would provide for protection from “inflation and market risk” and potentially “guarantee a specified real return above the rate of inflation.” The GOP asserted: “Proposals to undermine individual retirement savings plans could make it more difficult and costly for employers to offer these voluntary plans, ultimately resulting in fewer Americans being able to save for retirement.”

The letter said the group opposed “any effort to ‘nationalize’ the private 401(k) system, or any proposal that would dismantle or disfavor the private 401(k) system in favor of a government-run retirement security regime.”  

The letter also addressed the Departments of Labor and Treasury’s request for information regarding the annuitization of 401(k) plans through lifetime income options. The Group said it appreciates the departments seeking guidance and information from all parties and stakeholders in advance of regulatory activity, but strongly urged that the departments not proceed with any regulation in this area before they have carefully and thoroughly considered all of the information received.

More specifically, the Group urged that the departments take no action to mandate that plan sponsors include a lifetime income or annuitization option if they choose to offer a 401(k) plan to their employees, or that beneficiaries take some or all of their retirement savings in such an option.  

John Kline (R-Minnesota), the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee and a member of the Savings Solutions Group, said in a statement: “Proposals to make 401(k) savings plans less valuable for workers and more cumbersome for employers would take us in exactly the wrong direction.”