LAS VEGAS – A trade show can be a boon for astumped writer starved for material. A trade show in Las Vegas canbe the mother lode – or a disaster. Maybe it was health reformfatigue earlier this month that drove me to Vegas, where I snuckinto the 10th annual ASPPA 401(k)Summit. I was sick and tired of hearing about increasedcompliance, policy drafted by college dropouts and thoseaggravating mandates.

So I fled. Certainly a quiet little conference dedicated to oneof the federal government’s few shining success stories would offerthe perfect getaway. But what did I find waiting for me at CaesarsPalace? More crippling compliance, more uninformed policy and moremisguided mandates. Stop me if you’ve already heard this, but we’renot the only ones wrestling with reform. Congress has been quietlybickering over 401(k) regulations since last summer, tinkering withfiduciary definitions, auto enrollments and, yes, more smallbusiness mandates.

Things have even taken a surreal Clintonian turn with a debateover something as basic – yet critical – as what your definition ofadvice is? And while senators without accounting degrees (mostly)debate a uniform fiduciary standard, the Democrats are revving upto take another run at their auto IRA bill, which would saddlealready bloodied and bruised small businesses with another set offederal mandate shackles.

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