Washington – The Economic Policy Institute, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the Pension Rights Center and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) today launched Retirement USA, an initiative working for a new retirement system that, along with Social Security, will provide universal, secure, and adequate income for future retirees. The groups presented a set of principles that embody the ideal features of a future system and invited others to join the initiative. A major conference is planned for the fall to coincide with the 35th anniversary of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the nation’s landmark pension law.
“America’s promise of a secure retirement is central to our nation’s ideals,” said Karen Ferguson, director of the Pension Rights Center. “But for too many Americans, that promise is unfulfilled. While we need to maintain and improve the pension and retirement savings plans that we have today, we need to do more. We need a new system for the future.”
“We all support strengthening Social Security as the foundation of our retirement system,” said former Congresswoman Barbara Kennelly, who is now president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. “However, we also recognize that Social Security was never intended to be the sole source of Americans’ retirement income. Our nation needs a universal, secure and adequate system to supplement it.”
Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute said,” The current private retirement system is failing most Americans. More than half have no employer-provided retirement plan and most of those who do are woefully unprepared as they near retirement. 401(k)s can’t do the job.”
The Retirement USA principles will be used by the groups as a framework for evaluating how well proposals would fulfill the goals of universal coverage, and secure and adequate income. Maria Freese, Director of Government Relations and Policy for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, gave an overview of the principles, which include such concepts as:
The launch also included a presentation by Norman Stein, University of Alabama School of Law professor and consultant to the Pension Rights Center, who described proposals and systems that illustrate some of the principles.
“The financial crisis and the economic recession have shone a spotlight on the inadequacies of today’s system,” said Stephen Abrecht, Director of Benefits and Capital Stewardship for SEIU. “The time to act is now.”
Ferguson invited others to submit proposals for a new system, which will be examined at the fall conference. Proposals will be posted on the Retirement USA web site at www.retirement-usa.org.