Obama Administration Plans to Seize 401(k) Retirement Accounts


Written by Joe Wolverton, II
Wednesday, 05 May 2010 12:45

One aspect of a new and improved federal regulatory scheme is the seizure of 401(k) retirement plans and the subsequent government-administered disbursement of the funds.

In Chapter 3 of the Annual Report on the Middle Class released in February by Vice President Biden and the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, the Obama administration calls for enhancing the “retirement options” for the middle class by imposing “new regulations to improve the transparency and adequacy of 401(k) retirement savings.”

The plan, as sketched in the 43-page document, calls for the creation of something called “Guaranteed Retirement Accounts” (GRAs). Biden slyly shifts the onus for the idea through weasel words typical of the federal government: “Some have suggested the creation of Guaranteed Retirement Accounts (GRAs), which would give workers a simple way to invest a portion of their retirement savings in an account that was free of inflation and market risk, and in some versions under discussion, would guarantee a specified real return above the rate of inflation.”

These accounts would be “free of inflation and market risk” because they would be under the direct and absolute control of the federal bureaucracy. There would be no risk because the funds would no longer be moored to the free market and subject to the fluctuations thereof. Rather, the retirement funds of every hard-working American dependent on a 401(k) for their retirement security would be nationalized and made subject to the whims and will of the executive branch.

The current administration is practiced in the erection of such straw men to deflect their own socialistic and absolutist intent. The record is clear, however, and since the day of his inauguration, Barack Obama and his congressional co-conspirators have consistently and unapologetically set out to systematically nationalize the economy of the United States: first the banks; then the insurance companies; then the auto industry; then healthcare; and now the piece de resistance, the private savings accounts of millions of middle-class Americans. This is an unlawful usurpation of power unprecedented in the annals of American political history.

Coinciding with the publication of the report described above, the Obama White House, together with the Departments of Labor and Treasury, issued a so-called “Request for Information” calling for a detailed analysis of the pros and cons of the “annuitization” of individual 401(k)s. The scheme was set forth in a set of “Proposed Rules” published on February 2, 2010 in the Federal Register.

The document reads in part, “While defined contribution plans have some strengths relative to defined benefit plans, participants in defined contribution plans bear the investment risk because there is no promise by the employer as to the adequacy of the account balance that will be available or the income stream that can be provided after retirement.” And furthermore, “The Agencies are considering whether it would be appropriate for them to take future steps for them to facilitate access to, and use of, lifetime income or other arrangements designed to provide designed to provide a stream of income after retirement.”

The upshot of that clunky prose is that the Obama administration believes that employers cannot be relied upon to adequately manage the 401(k) retirement accounts it provides for their employees, therefore the federal government will relieve them of that responsibility and take sole discretionary control of those funds, thus eliminating the risk of mismanagement. In other words, the Obama administration is planning to divert the “stream of income after retirement” and channel it right through Washington, D.C.

Under the section of the Proposed Rules marked “Background,” the document declares that it is the intent of the agencies considering these changes to further “their efforts to promote retirement security for American workers.” And, to “provide wages that support families, and rise with time and productivity.” Since January 2010, it seems that the only thing rising with time is the likelihood that the economic wealth and might of our once enviable Republic will be methodically eradicated through the exercise by the executive branch of unconstitutional authority over every financial aspect of our nation’s people.

While the time for commenting on these Proposed Rules has passed (May 3, 2010 was the deadline), there is yet time for concerned citizens to contact their elected representatives and voice their opposition to President Obama’s proposed seizure of their 401(k) retirement accounts.

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