Obama Pitches Retirement Security in Las Vegas

December 11, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama's campaign took him to Las Vegas this week where he met with a group of supporters to talk about his plans to reform the U.S. retirement savings system.

Obama told the six Las Vegas backers aged 30 to 70, that one element of successful retirement savings is being able to generate enough income while working, the Associated Press reported. “Part of the problem in terms of retirement security is just making enough money in the first place to be able to save,” Obama said, according to the Associated Press.

Obama asked supporter, 32-year-old Dan Martinez of North Las Vegas, who is in real estate sales, about his struggles to maintain a retirement nest egg amid the current housing downturn.

Martinez told the Illinois Senator that he endured a six-month dry spell with no sales at all and had to burn through his entire savings, according to a Las Vegas Review-Journal report.  Martinez said, “When times were good, I was able to put money away … but that dry spell depleted it,” according to the Review-Journal.

According to a campaign fact sheet, Obama’s retirement security platform calls for:

Auto enrollment into an IRA.  Under his plan, employers who do not offer a retirement plan will be required to automatically enroll their employees in a direct deposit IRA . Employees may opt out. Even after enrollment, employees can change their savings levels, reallocate investment portfolios, or end contributions to the account. Under the Obama plan, when employees change jobs, their balances will be automatically rolled over into the new employer’s system to ensure continued savings.

A government match.  Obama will expand the existing Savers Credit to match 50% of the first $1,000 of savings for families that earn under $75,000, and he will make the tax credit refundable. To help ensure that this proposal actually strengthens retirement investments, the savings match will be automatically deposited into designated personal accounts by using the account information listed on IRS tax filing

More pension disclosure  Obama will ensure that all employees who have company pensions receive annual disclosures about their pension fund’s investments, including full details about which projects have been invested in, the performance of those investments, and appropriate details about probable future investments strategies.

Obama also backs annual plan fee disclosures and a requirement that businesses choose a default investment plan that has an investment portfolio similar to that of the federal Thrift Savings Plan, low-management fees, and does not include company stock.

The Obama campaign fact sheet is  here .