An ‘Opportunity to Fix’ the DOL Rule

By John Iekel • February 06, 2017 • 0 Comments
The Department of Labor’s (DOL) fiduciary rule, as well as other regulations and laws that affect and govern retirement plans, were part of the discussion at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce meeting on Feb. 3.

“The Shifting Paradigm of Retirement,” a morning program in which speakers from the federal government, private industry and academia discussed topics relevant to retirement plans, took place against the backdrop of the Trump administration’s initial announcement that it would be issuing an executive order concerning the rule.

“The opportunity to fix a rule that was broken from the get-go is good news,” said David Hirschmann, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness.

Tommy Nguyen, Staff Director of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee’s Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, making clear that he spoke for himself only and not in an official capacity on behalf of the subcommittee, remarked the fiduciary rule serves to limit access to advice and said of the morning’s announcement about the rule, “We are encouraged by some of the news that the White House is taking action.”

Tax reform also figured in several of the morning’s presentations.

Regarding whether tax reform would result in retirement savings being treated as a source of government revenue, Stephen Hostelley, Legislative Assistant for Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH), said that in the process of tax reform there is a need to make sure “that retirement options are not being taken away.” Hostelley was expressing his own views and not speaking on behalf of the congressman. Nguyen agreed, adding, “As we encourage individuals to save, that’s one less dollar of federal aid” they may need.

Others evinced at least some interest in changing tax treatment and the way public policy affects retirement saving and income.

Ashwini Srikantiah, Director of Product Management at Fidelity’s Center for Applied Technology, expressed her view that existing tax incentives regarding employer contributions to retirement plan programs result in an increase in taxable income for employees and provide no tax benefit for employers that make the contributions.

Jen Brown, Academic Fellow at the Tax Policy Center of American University’s Kogod School of Business, in her presentation on the new economy and retirement security, asked why there are many kinds of IRAs. “Why not make it simpler? Why not consolidate?” She also asked why the threshold could not be raised.

And Ted Goldman, Senior Pension Fellow at the American Academy of Actuaries, in discussing longevity and retirement security, cited public policy as one of the ways that the effects of increased longevity can be addressed.