Less than two weeks after announcing his own retirement in 2014, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has unveiled a proposal to benefit retiring Americans.
Harkin wants to start an “evolving discussion” about a privately run retirement system for older Americans. The name would be “USA,” for “Universal, Secure and Adaptable,” and the basic idea is that workers without a retirement plan would be able to create one by authorizing automatic withdrawals from their paychecks, while employers are given tax credits to offset their costs.
He calls retirement a “three-legged stool,” based on personal savings, Social Security and a pension — different from a defined benefit system as has been the case for most U.S. companies’ workers for decades.
“It’s something I’m working a lot on,” Harkin told The Gazette. “Thirty years ago, one out of every two people had a pension. Now it’s one out of every five. And it’s getting worse. It keeps going down.”
Harkin chairs the Senate Health, Labor, Education and Pensions Committee, and he calls his pension proposal — which he hasn’t offered yet — one of his last main legislative achievements he wants to notch before leaving Washington.
He has statistics on his side. Fifteen percent of Iowans are older than 65 — one of the highest rates in the nation — and more than 78,000 are older than 85, according to statistics from AARP Iowa. Furthermore, the percentage of Iowans older than 85 is projected to grow by 36 percent by 2030, making the Hawkeye State one of the more senior states in population.
What do you think of Harkin’s proposal? Would it be an improvement over the current system?