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Presidential Candidates Agree on Americans Not Saving Enough to Retire

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Those of you who’ve hung in there with me through this six-part analysis of presidential campaign politics and retirement saving know that we’ve already set the stage with my first post in the series What the 2016 Presidential Candidates Have to Say about Retirement, we also looked at the demographics that will drive retirement over the next decade with  7 Ways Retirement Demographics Have Changed in 80 Years. In addition, we examined the candidates’ views on privatizing Social Security with the article, A Rare Topic of Agreement Among the 2016 Presidential Candidates, and their positions on expanding and paying for social security with Social Security Funding and Eligibility. We also compared the three candidates’ positions to the established Democratic and Republican party positions with Positions on Retirement Security: Democratic vs. Republican.

Even a quick look at their speeches, websites, and media coverage shows that neither Trump, Clinton, nor Sanders has ignored the issues of Social Security funding and benefits, or private retirement plans, such as IRAs and qualified plans, legislated into existence in 1975.  All three candidates recognize that people have not saved sufficiently to retire. 

There are other areas of agreement among them:

  • None want to explore changes to the age of retirement (65, 66 or 67) to ages that better reflect the demographics and longer, healthier life spans of our times.
  • None make any statement about mandatory retirement ages. Indeed, their comments on age are directly linked to when people receive Social Security benefits. 
  • All recognize that Social Security funds will likely be exhausted by 2032.
  • All oppose privatizing Social Security.
  • All recognize that benefits need to be there for the lower and middle-income classes.
  • All, in some form, favor the highest income earners receive smaller or no payouts from Social Security.

Of course, there are differences. Some are distinct: Trump is the only candidate who wants to specifically sequester Social Security funds, putting the trust fund out of reach for any use other than benefit payments.  Sanders proposes a major tax overhaul to fund future contributions and higher benefit payouts.  Clinton’s proposal tends to “kick the can down the road,” although she does advocate paying benefits to people who worked as “caregivers” outside the traditional pay-for-salary environment.

Where IRAs Come Into Play

Not one of the candidates has specifically addressed the IRAs and qualified retirement plans that form an essential supplement to most Americans’ Social Security payments. Certainly none of them have presented a program which is better than what is available under ERISA. None have any plan to encourage substantial individual saving for retirement. Sanders and Clinton would prefer to have employers move back toward defined benefit plans, but offer no plan or incentive to make this happen. 

Other articles in this series:

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