The annual National Savings Forum, hosted by America Saves and the Consumer Federation of America, brings together key players in the private, public, and non-profit sectors invested in improving national savings, to discuss pressing issues and innovative solutions. At this year’s Forum, Aspen Initiative on Financial Security (IFS) Executive Director Ida Rademacher contributed to this discussion as a speaker on the “Retirement Savings” panel. Rademacher was joined by Melissa Koide, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Consumer policy at the U.S. Department of Treasury; Courtney Eccles, Policy Director at the Woodstock Institute; and Bennett Kleinberg, Vice President of Prudential Retirement. The panel was moderated by Dallas Salisbury, President and CEO of the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
Rademacher identified several obstacles to building sufficient retirement savings and highlighted policies that have the potential to help solve them. The shift to defined contribution plans has put the burden on households to navigate complex retirement plans. Families are struggling both to begin savings and to set aside meaningful amounts. While the reforms included in the Pension Protection Act of 2006 went a long way toward making savings decisions more automatic for employees at firms who offer savings plans, much remains to be done. Rademacher pointed out that savings incentives within the tax code do very little for low and moderate-income households. Reforming the Savers Credit to make it refundable, or providing a direct dollar-for-dollar match, would go a long way toward targeting incentives where they are most needed. She also commended the Treasury Department’s new MyRA account, and Illinois’ new “Secure Choice” auto-enrollment legislation as exciting policy innovations to expand savings coverage. Given the fact that so many households struggle to balance short and long-term savings goals, Rademacher emphasized “solving for both” through policies such as nested accounts, rather than “pitting savings goals against each other.”