Will Obama’s ‘Bully Pulpit’ Put Americans' Retirement at Risk?

By Andrew Remo • January 16, 2015 • 0 Comments
With President Obama poised to deliver his State of the Union address on Jan. 20, a powerful coalition of retirement, union and so-called consumer protection groups have again interjected themselves into the debate over retirement plans.

The coalition’s website, Saveourretirement.com, intends to create grassroots support for the impending and controversial Department of Labor fiduciary rule. To do so, the campaign plans to paint the entire retirement plan advisor community as a “colony of termites” that eat away the hard earned retirement savings of the tens of millions of Americans who participate in employer-sponsored retirement plans.  

The timing of the campaign is the clearest indication yet that President Obama will use the bully pulpit of the State of the Union address to fully back the Department of Labor’s effort to interfere with the financial decisions of Americans as they plan for their retirement. Look for the substance of the regulation to be sent to the Office of Management and Budget for formal Obama Administration approval shortly thereafter. It is the opening salvo in what is sure to be a knock-down, drag-out political fight pitting the retirement plan provider and retirement advisor community — as well as those who support retirement advice choice — against well-financed and politically connected, but seriously misguided, interest groups close to President Obama and his allies on Capitol Hill.  

At stake is nothing less than the professional retirement plan advice that millions of lower- and middle-income savers rely upon as they make important decisions about what to do with their retirement money. While the coalition campaign purportedly seeks to close a “retirement advice loophole,” the proposal they support would, as a practical matter, separate many retirement savers from their advisor of choice, leaving them more vulnerable to unscrupulous actors that could care less about the interests of savers and potentially undermining years of planning and preparation.

The retirement plan provider and retirement plan advisor community and anyone who cares about the retirement security of Americans, should be extremely concerned with these political developments.

The Saveourretirement website is funded by AARP, AFL-CIO, AFSME, Americans for Financial Reform, Better Markets, the Consumer Federation of America and the Pension Rights Center.     

Andrew Remo is ASPPA’s Congressional Affairs Manager.