NEW YORK, Dec 27 (Reuters) – The Republican Party has
staged a mind-numbing 18 presidential debates this year, and
more questions and answers lie ahead as the primaries and
general election get into high gear in the new year.
The future of Social Security and Medicare will be central
issues in the 2012 election. The ongoing debate about income
inequality also is tied to retirement policy, since the erosion
in middle class wages affects 401(k) savings, pension benefits
and the ability to retire at all.
Dec 23 (Reuters) – The payroll tax cut fight has reminded
Democrats that they still have muscles, and that they can win a
fight once in a while against Republicans.
But everything about this fight was upside down -
Republicans fought a tax cut and posed as defenders of Social
Security; Democrats fought for tax cuts and appeared ready to
harm Social Security by tapping its dedicated revenue stream,
the Federal Income Contributions Act (FICA) tax.
Dec 20 (Reuters) – Southwest Airlines pilots are
now free to retire about the country. That’s because they have
the nation’s best 401(k) plan.
Brightscope, which rates and ranks 401(k)s, released its
third annual yearend rating of the 30 best large plans today.
The Southwest Airlines pilots’ plan took top honors this year,
rising two spots compared with last year’s list.
By Mark Miller
(Reuters) – Transparency will be coming to your 401(k) plan next year in the form of new quarterly reports that clearly disclose the fees you pay on investments. Now, the question is: What will you be able to do with the new-found information?
The new reports will turn up no later than the second quarter, and you’ll see information about fees being charged to your plan – and the actual dollar amounts charged against your own account and mutual fund choices.
By Mark Miller
(Reuters) – The White House unveiled a countdown clock this week, tick-tocking away the days, hours, minutes and seconds to a December 31 deadline for extending and expanding the payroll tax cut. It’s a doomsday-style reminder that taxes will jump for an estimated 160 million Americans on January 1 if Congress doesn’t act.
President Obama is proposing a one-year extension and expansion of the tax holiday already in place on the employee share of the payroll tax, cutting it to 3.1 percent from the 2011 rate of 4.2 percent. He also proposes cutting the employer share of the tax to 3.1 percent from 6.2 percent on the first $5 million of payroll next year; there would be a complete employer payroll tax holiday for companies that grow their payrolls up to $50 million in a year by hiring new workers or raising the salaries of existing workers.
By Mark Miller
(Reuters) – “Set it and forget it,” infomercial marketer extraordinaire Ron Popeil used to say.
That might have worked for Ron’s easy-to-use chicken rotisserie — but it’s not a good approach for your retirement portfolio. Even the best-built retirement plan needs a periodic check-up, so here’s a list of seven tips, tweaks and reminders for the year ahead.
Nov 29 (Reuters) – A growing number of employers
automatically enroll new workers in their retirement saving
plans, boosting participation rates and the use of other
That’s the key finding of a new Fidelity Investments
analysis of the impact of the Pension Protection Act of 2006
(PPA) on 401(k) plan design and participant saving behavior.
The analysis is based on data at the end of the third quarter
of this year from 20,600 corporate defined-contribution plans
administered by Fidelity, covering 11.7 million participants.
By Mark Miller
(Reuters) – Now that the Super Committee has ground to a halt, the threatened “sword of Damocles” is poised to slash $1.2 trillion in federal spending. As we move to this next phase of the budget wars, deficit hawks will rev up one of their most phony arguments — namely, that protecting entitlement programs rewards the old at the expense of the young.
The debt ceiling deal last summer calls for automatic cuts to start in 2013, absent a Super Committee deal, with the reductions split evenly between defense and domestic spending programs — but Social Security and Medicare are mostly exempt.
Nov 17 (Reuters) – The Congressional Super Committee
negotiations are coming down to the wire, and Republicans are
demanding that Medicare privatization be included in any final
The news comes on the heels of GOP Presidential candidate
Mitt Romney’s recent call for creation of a “premium support”
option that would let seniors choose between traditional
fee-for-service Medicare or a defined amount of money that they
could use to shop for a private plan in a federally-sponsored
Medicare exchange marketplace. Romney’s proposal is a cousin of
the privatization plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, and endorsed
by the House of Representatives earlier this year.
Nov 11 (Reuters) – The 2001 collapse of Enron may look like
small potatoes by post-2008 standards of corporate malfeasance
and disaster. But it was pretty ugly at the time — and nothing
was more painful to watch than the hit employees took when they
lost their jobs and their retirement savings all in one blow.
At the end of 2000, 62 percent of assets in Enron’s 401(k)
were held in the company’s own stock; when Enron went into a
free fall the following year, it froze the plan assets and
soon-to-be-jobless workers watched helplessly as their savings