The U.S. Treasury and Labor Departments will soon ask for publiccomment about a plan to promote converting 401(k) and IRA savingsinto annuities or other "steady payment streams,"Bloomberg reports. Phyllis C. Borzi, assistant Laborsecretary, told the paper the inquiry would also cover other waysto guarantee retirement income, such as longevity insurance.

"There's been a fair amount of discussion in the literaturetaking the view that perhaps there ought to be more lifetimeincome. The question is how to encourage it, and whether thegovernment can and should be helpful in that regard," DeputyAssistant Treasury Secretary Mark Iwry told the paper.

Such a proposal could meet with public opposition, according toa recent report by the Investment Company Institute. When askedwhether retirees should be able to make their own decisions aboutretirement assets and income, 96 percent of households surveyed byICI agreed that they should. When asked direct questions about thegovernment's involvement in retirement income, respondents wereonly slightly less opposed. Seventy-two percent said the governmentshouldn't "require retirees to trade a portion of their retirementplan accounts for a fair contract that promises to pay them incomefor life from an insurance company." When asked if that contractshould be with the government rather than an insurance company,disagreement fell only one percentage point to 71 percent.

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