Weekly Columns

Retirement Security for All Americans

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JOHNSON CITY, February 22, 2017 | Tiffany Haverly (202-225-6356) | comments

In 2015, an alarming report from the Government Accountability Office found that 29 percent of Americans aged 55 and older have no retirement savings and no traditional pension. Just this week, Census researchers announced that nearly two-thirds of Americans aren’t contributing anything to their 401(k) accounts. Now, more than ever, the U.S. government should be championing policies to make it easier for Americans to save for retirement and keep more of their hard-earned wages. Nonetheless, since 2010, the Department of Labor, under the leadership of then-President Obama, had been pushing a new regulation on financial advisers that would make it harder for families to save. While we can all agree that financial advisers should act in the best interests of the people they serve, this rule to define what fiduciary means would do nothing to prepare lower- and middle-class Americans for retirement. In fact, it would make it harder for these families to save by driving up the cost of sound investment advice.

That’s why I was pleased that President Trump took steps earlier this month to stop the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule. Since 2010, I’ve held hearings, asked questions, written letters, and introduced bipartisan legislation in an attempt to point out serious concerns with what the previous administration was attempting with this rule. Despite these concerns, the Obama administration pressed on with this harmful rule. President Trump made the right choice in stopping this rule, but that’s not all Congress and the administration are doing to reverse misguided rulemaking and ensure all Americans – no matter their background – have the ability to save for retirement.

Over the last few weeks Congress has used the authority granted by the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to stop many of former President Obama’s most damaging regulations. Using the CRA, the House can send bills to the Senate to stop a rule promulgated in the last 60 days that only require a simple majority to be sent to the president’s desk. This tool is an effective way to roll back harmful rules and regulations issued toward the end of a president’s term. The American people spoke loud and clear that they wanted a different direction for our country, and House Republicans are doing everything we can to work with the Senate and Trump administration to get our great nation back on track. Last week, we passed more CRAs that will encourage retirement and economic security for every American.

These disapproval resolutions would block two Obama-era rules that could force private-sector employees into government-run IRAs, removing important protections provided by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). In 2016, the Obama administration put forward rules that would establish a “safe harbor” from longstanding ERISA protections. I have serious concerns that removing these protections would force some employers to enroll workers in government-run IRAs through payroll deductions. These rules would leave retirement savers with fewer protections under the law, less control over their savings and also puts taxpayers at risk because of the funding challenges many state and local governments face in their retirement programs. The last thing we need is to make it harder for families to save, but that is exactly what these misguided regulations would do.

I know the vast majority of Tennesseans just want the ability to work and provide for their families without the federal government intervening, and that’s exactly why I will continue to support legislation that will stop government overreach and return decision-making power to the men and women who get up and go to work every day to create a better life for them and their families. Whether it’s through comprehensive tax reform or stopping some of the most misguided regulations of the Obama administration, I am committed to ensuring the federal government will no longer stand in the way of job creation and economic security.

Feel free to contact my office if I can be of assistance to you or your family. 
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