It’s hard not to blame the electorate for holding Congress (and the media) in such low esteem when presidential candidates and the questions lobbed at them aren’t hitting their targets, at least when it comes to retirement.
When the Republican presidential candidates faced off in their first two debates, there was little discussion of retirement reform. Any discussion that did take place involved Social Security.
In last week’s debate, there was only one mention of the word “retirement.” That was in the context of bipartisanship, when Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., assured the audience he was capable of working with his political opponents.
He recalled how in 1983 two Irishmen, House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, a liberal Democrat from Massachusetts, and President Ronald Reagan struck a deal to increase the age of full Social Security retirement from 65 to 67.
Still, no mention of annuities, no mention of 401(k)s, no mention of individual retirement accounts, no mention of low retirement balances, no mention of employer-sponsored retirement savings, no mention of advisors and fiduciary conflicts of interest.
CNN moderator Jake Tapper, Salem Radio Network talk show host Hugh Hewitt and CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash steered clear of retirement questions during the debate. So perhaps we can let the candidates off the hook.
During the Aug. 6 debate, the only discussion about retirement revolved around Social Security. This was mentioned by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in the context of entitlement reform during questioning from co-moderator Chis Wallace of Fox News Channel.
Presidential candidates and media personalities will have plenty of opportunities to bring up the subject of retirement funding.
GOP primary debates are scheduled to take place at least once a month from October through March, according to publicly posted schedules.
Democratic Party debates, which will feature fewer candidates, are also planned at least once a month from October through February, according to the latest available schedule.
Meanwhile, a poll reveals 89 percent of survey respondents gave politicians a grade of C or less when it comes to helping Americans save for retirement, and 29 percent gave politicians an F. The poll was conducted by Charles Schwab.
Schwab’s survey found that 69 percent of Americans say their ability to save for a comfortable retirement should be a major public policy focus. The survey was conducted of 1,000 U.S. 401(k) participants.
The same percentage — 69 percent — of survey respondents also said they want the retirement issues addressed in the upcoming presidential debates.
An overwhelming majority — 97 percent — of respondents believe Americans are not saving enough for a comfortable retirement, the survey found.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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