After the election, retirement security heads for a crash

Retirement security already looked like a looming train wreck for most U.S. households before Election Day. Now, the consolidation of Republican control of government threatens to accelerate the crash.

It is too early to predict the agenda Donald Trump will bring to the White House on retirement policy, or where it might fit on his priority list. We live in a rapidly aging nation, but retirement policy never received a serious airing during the hot mess of a campaign that just ended.

It is also impossible to predict how Trump’s priorities will match up with those of Republican leaders in Congress, considering their deep divides on many issues during the campaign.

But previous Republican proposals and Trump’s campaign pledges point toward a range of possible GOP retirement initiatives between now and the 2018 midterm elections.

The economic frustrations of older, middle-class voters played an important role in Trump’s upset win over Hillary Clinton. Exit polling reveals that voters above age 45 favored him, especially among middle-class households.

These are households bearing the brunt of job loss, income inequality, the decline of traditional defined benefit pensions, rising healthcare costs and Social Security benefits already scheduled to shrink under the reforms made in 1983. And they have managed to save precious little for retirement: 62 percent of working households headed by people aged 55-64 have less than one year of annual income, according to the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) – far less than they will need to maintain their standard of living in retirement.

But here is the irony: Republican control of the White House and Congress over the next two years could leave these struggling near-retirement households even worse off. In my Reuters column this week, I offer just a partial rundown of the retirement-related issues that will bear careful watching.

 

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