Harkin Retirement System Proposal Gets Mixed Reviews

July 27, 2012 ( - Senator Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) new report, "The Retirement Crisis and a Plan to Solve It," has received mixed reviews.

By Jay Polansky | July 28, 2012
Page 1 of 3 View Full Article

The heart of his plan is a new system of privately-run hybrid pension plans, which incorporate many of the benefits of traditional pensions while substantially reducing the burden on employers. Harkin’s proposal requires that individuals who are not covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan be automatically enrolled in regulated, privately-run retirement funds. This concerns David John, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation.  

“We’re delighted the senator is looking at the issue,” he told PLANSPONSOR. “At the same time, it has some fairly significant weaknesses compared to some of the other proposals that are out there. The problems that we’ve got with it include the fact that it appears the senator is creating a large central pension plan that will directly compete with many of the existing plans.”  

Others see the plan as a solution for the retirement savings crisis.  

“The report makes a compelling case for a new private retirement system that would provide a meaningful supplement to Social Security for the millions of employees whose employers do not offer pensions or retirement savings plans,” said Karen Friedman, the Pension Rights Center’s executive vice president and policy director. “The report also makes common-sense recommendations for strengthening Social Security, the foundation of our nation’s retirement system. Together, these measures would help ensure that all Americans can retire with security and dignity.”  

The report is available here.