Aspen Institute to Hold Briefing on the Future of America’s Retirement Savings Policy

May 16, 2013


Contact: Colby Farber

Capitol Hill Briefing To Take Place Thursday Morning

Washington, DC, May 16, 2013–– The Aspen Institute Initiative on Financial Security (Aspen IFS) will host a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill this afternoon on Improving Retirement Security: Expanding Coverage to All Americans. The briefing will bring together Congressional leaders, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Richard Neal (D-MA), who have spearheaded the push for policy reforms that would make it easier for American workers to achieve retirement security. The briefing will take place Thursday, May 16th from 12:00 – 1:30 PM in the Congressional Meeting Room North in the Capitol Visitor’s Center. 

Following remarks by the congressmen, featured experts will offer their thoughts on expanding savings coverage through retirement policy reform. Speakers include:

  • John Adler, Retirement Security Campaign Director, SEIU
  • Jamie Kalamarides, Chairman & CEO, Prudential Bank & Trust; Senior Vice President, Institutional Investment Solutions, Prudential Financial
  • Judy Miller, Director of Retirement Policy, ASPPA
  • Eric Rodriguez, Vice President, Office of Research, Advocacy, & Legislation, NCLR
  • Debra Whitman, Executive Vice President, Policy, Strategy, & International Affairs, AARP
  • Lisa Mensah, Executive Director, Aspen Institute Initiative on Financial Security 

“Hardworking Americans want to enjoy their golden years with dignity and financial independence—but that is getting less and less likely for the middle class.  Today, half of Americans have less than $10,000 in savings, and we have a retirement income deficit of $6.6 trillion,” says Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin. “One of the biggest problems is that almost half of the workforce doesn’t have access to an employer-provided retirement plan.  If people don’t have access to a pension or 401(k), they just aren’t going to save. By simply ensuring that everyone has access to a retirement plan, we can drastically increase the likelihood that they will have a secure retirement.” 

“I have always believed we must encourage more Americans to save for their retirement. That is why I am reintroducing a bill today that would help more low and middle income workers into the retirement savings system. It is estimated that 75 million people in the United States have no employer-provided retirement plan or other opportunity to save through workplace contributions. My plan would create automatic payroll deposit Individual Retirement Accounts, or Auto IRA’s, for workers who do not have access to employer provided retirement plans. Employers would be required to automatically enroll employees in an Auto IRA unless the employee decides to opt out. I think it is a common sense solution to dramatically expand retirement savings for many Americans,” said Congressman Richard E. Neal.

“For too long, retirement insecurity has been the ‘elephant in the living room,’ but we can no longer afford to ignore this looming crisis. Currently, more than half of American workers do not have a retirement plan at work and are facing the nightmare of retiring into poverty or near-poverty.  We must create new retirement plan models to ensure that all working people can maintain a decent standard of living after a lifetime of work and make the American Dream a reality in their golden years,” says John Adler, retirement security campaign director for SEIU.

Judy Miller, ASPPA’s director of retirement security, mentions that “We know workers with modest incomes are over 14 times more likely to save for retirement if there is a workplace plan than if they have to set up an IRA on their own. That’s why expanding the availability of workplace savings, and preserving incentives for employers to maintain and contribute to retirement plans, is so critical.”

“As 10,000 baby boomers retire each day and policymakers turn their attention to retirement and tax reform, the time is ripe for connecting all American workers to savings accounts and incentivizing all workers to build adequate nest-eggs.  Currently too many Americans are left out of the savings system and miss out on current tax incentives to save for their futures,” remarks Lisa Mensah, executive director of the Aspen Institute Initiative on Financial Security.

“Unfortunately, financial security in retirement has become a fading dream for millions of Americans. More people need to save more, but obstacles stand in the way. Policymakers and employers need to help by giving workers more opportunity and incentives to save for their future,” says Debra Whitman, executive vice president at AARP.

“Almost half of all American workers do not have access to any type of retirement plan at work,” comments Eric Rodriguez, vice president of research, advocacy, and legislation at NCLR. “But if that sounds alarming, the numbers are even higher for Latinos, almost two-thirds of Hispanic workers in the U.S. do not have any access to a retirement savings plan, while more than half of all Latino seniors rely on Social Security for at least 90 percent of their retirement income.”

“Far too many Americans are without workplace retirement savings opportunities,” says Jamie Kalamarides, senior vice president, Prudential Retirement. “We commend Senator Harkin and Representative Neal for recognizing the important role the multiple employer plan framework can play in attracting smaller employers to offer retirement savings opportunities for their employees. We look forward to working with members of Congress, as well as representatives of the Departments of Labor and Treasury, to identify ways in which we foster and encourage the expansion and attractiveness of MEPs for smaller employers.”

For additional information about the Improving Retirement Security event and the work of the Aspen Institute Initiative on Financial Security, please contact Colby Farber at 202.736.2533 or at 

About Aspen IFS: 
The Aspen Institute Initiative on Financial Security (Aspen IFS) is a leading policy program dedicated to helping bring about the policies and financial products that enable all Americans to save, invest, and own. For more information about Aspen IFS and its work, please visit 

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit


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