May 22, 2005


Automatic Signup In 401(k)s Backed (Jonathan Weisman, May 22, 2005, Washington Post)

House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) will include a provision in his Social Security legislation to help employers make enrollment in 401(k) plans automatic unless workers choose to opt out, according to congressional staff and knowledgeable lobbyists.

The provision could have substantial impact on the nation's savings rate, which has declined from 7.2 percent in 1992 to barely 1 percent today. Recent academic research has shown that employee participation rates soar among companies with automatic enrollment in retirement plans.

Christin Baker, a spokesman for the Ways and Means Committee, said she could not confirm whether any particular provision has been included in the broad package of retirement savings proposals Thomas is assembling. But lobbyists who have met with Thomas say he has given his word on the matter.

"You can take it to the bank," said one Republican lobbyist with close committee ties, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his relationship with the chairman.

Personal SS accounts would need an opt-out requirement too and for specific age -based redirections.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 22, 2005 9:05 PM
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