CALIFORNIA — After eight years of collaboration between senior and consumer advocates, business, and labor — is on the cusp of providing greater retirement security to 6.8 million private-sector wage earners.
But, suddenly, the state’s pioneering “Secure Choice” plans are under siege.
Secure Choice has been hailed as the most significant expansion of retirement security since the passage of Social Security in 1935. It is a simple, voluntary savings plan that will be offered to private sector California workers at no cost to taxpayers and no liability to participating employers.
For the nearly half of all California workers who are on track to retire with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, Secure Choice can be the difference between a dignified retirement and an impoverished one in which people work until the grave.
In the wake of aggressive special interest lobbying, two Republican congressmen are coming to the aid of Wall Street by introducing resolutions that would strike down an important Department of Labor regulation supporting Secure Choice, as well as initiatives from other states aimed at helping low- and moderate-wage workers save for their golden years.
It is shameful that Congressional Republicans are bowing to Wall Street interests who want to make a buck on the back of Main Street workers doing their best to save for retirement.
In this era of “alternative facts,” Wall Street argues that the status quo works; that the private marketplace, which is dominated by their profit-generating retirement products, is more than adequate.
In the real world, 7.5 million California workers do not have access to a workplace-based retirement plan. Of those, two-thirds are people of color and 58 percent are women. These are the facts that count and clearly show the current system is not working.
In the real world, each successive generation of Americans is on track to retire poorer than the last. If we continue to do nothing, the strain on taxpayer funded health and human services will undermine the long-term financial stability of our state.
Secure Choice, which was approved by the California Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown just months ago, was supported by AARP, Small Business Majority, many ethnic chambers of commerce, labor and other groups.
Significantly, the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Manufacturers and Technology Association and the American Council of Life Insurers did not oppose the legislation in its final form.
What’s more, surveys show that two-thirds of California small business owners support the creation of a state retirement savings program, and nearly three-fourths say such a program would give their businesses a competitive edge. For that reason, Secure Choice passed with bipartisan support.
The only opposition came from a single Wall Street trade association.
Join us in our commitment to expand retirement security to all Californians by writing and calling your representative in Congress today to fight this GOP plan to benefit Wall Street.