Democrats, Republicans sound off on retirement

With just hours left before Election Day, it may be useful for those examining the retirement field - mostly neglected as it has been in this campaign - and see what key differences exist between voters and their views on retirement issues.

U.S. News and World Report's Money staff took a look at a series of recent surveys probing politically affiliated voters and their feelings on retirement: Who should pay, what role Social Security should play and what they feel their future prospects look like.

On the issue of responsibility, more Republicans (56 percent) than Democrats (42 percent) are likely to say that the onus for retirement planning falls on the individual, with Democrats more likely to shift the focus to the government and employers.

Those opinions, from a Wells Fargo/Harris Interactive survey, suggest that most Americans see they need to be more directly involved in their own retirement planning affairs.

"Most middle-class Americans are waking up to the fact that I own and control and am responsible for my own retirement," said Joseph Ready, executive VP of Well Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust.

On 401(k)s, Democrats also say that employers should play a more important role in helping workers save and should also provide workplace financial advice to help facilitate savings. The same survey says that Democrats tend to favor incentivizing systems including automatic enrollment (77 percent) and automatic escalation in deferrals (72 percent) versus their Republican counterparts (55 percent and 56 percent).

Republicans, at the same time, show that individual spirit in that they've mostly started their own retirement savings efforts earlier in life, according to an Allianz Life survey.

Seventy-nine percent of Republicans aged 55 to 65 say they began saving earlier than age 50, versus 69 percent of Democrats. Of folks in that same 55-65 age group, only 12 percent of Republicans had failed to make any savings plans, versus 19 percent of Democrats and 19 percent of Independents.

On the issue of Social Security, more Democrats (67 percent) say they favor a focus on preventing future cuts to the program through possible increases in current Social Security taxes, versus Republicans (49 percent), according to a Pew Research Center study.

The same survey found that 63 percent of higher-income Republicans favored efforts to lower the federal budget deficit versus preserving entitlements; middle- and lower-income Republicans said they felt preserving entitlements was still more important than cutting the deficit.

Three-quarters of Democrats polled said they favored increasing the payroll tax cap beyond the $110,100 limit; only 54 percent of Republicans said they supported that Social Security change. Republicans also were more in support (41 percent) of an older retirement age in order to qualify for Social Security benefits than Democrats (31 percent).





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