Congress can take steps to strengthen Americans’ retirement security, but any successful effort will require a bipartisan approach, said the ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions and Family Policy.
Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., spoke with Wayne Chopus, president and CEO of the Insured Retirement Institute, during an online session on how the new Congress can strengthen retirement security.
In the previous session of Congress, Young worked with three other senators to put forward two bills to improve access to workplace retirement plans and improve private sector retirement plans. Those bills were the Retirement Security Flexibility Act of 2019 and the Commission on Retirement Security Act of 2019. Young said he hopes to reintroduce those bills later this year with the goal of reincorporating them into a larger retirement security bill.
The Retirement Security Flexibility Act, he said, would expand access to workplace retirement plans by giving small employers more flexibility when they set up 401(k)s for their employees. In addition, the bill would make it easier for savers to auto enroll into long-term savings plans and more quickly escalate those savings.
He said the Commission on Retirement Security Act would establish a federal retirement commission that could review private retirement benefit programs and then report recommendations on retirement security to Congress.
Young seemed optimistic about the chances of Congress taking up retirement security issues this session, but warned success would require a bipartisan approach.
“I believe there’s a real desire to keep making retirement reform issues bipartisan,” he said. “The key to long-lasting retirement security policy is through bipartisanship. Otherwise, there’s a real concern that any changes brought on in a purely partisan manner will only be temporary changes. Abandoning our bipartisan approach now would only hurt Americans looking for long-term creative solutions to the retirement savings gap that we’re seeing across all age groups.”
Young recently introduced the TRUST Act with Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah. This bill would help save and address programs such as Social Security. In September, the Congressional Budget Office found four of the major trust funds could exhaust their funds within the next 14 years.
Young said his bill would establish a rescue committee to prevent depletion, improve long-term solvency and address the key structural issues that will put major federal programs on a stronger footing. A rescue committee would be established for each of the trust funds.
“If we don’t act now, programs such as Social Security and Medicare will go bankrupt,” he said. “With the TRUST Act, I believe we can set in motion a long-term plan to tackle these drivers of our national debt.”
Young said he favored Congress taking steps to ensure the tax deferment of retirement savings continues. “It’s my understanding that eliminating the tax benefits for retirement savings will result in significantly lower savings rates,” he said.
He also noted the SECURE Act made it easier for small businesses to set up 401(k) accounts for their workers and provided access to tax-deferred savings plans to low-income Americans.