A new game of chicken is under way between states and the federal government and, so far, it appears the states are winning.

This time, the fight is about how best to shore up the country's retirement system.

At the federal level, Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin has advanced legislation to deliver retirement plan access to more than 50 million Americans in the private-sector without a plan. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio raised the hackles of many in his party earlier this year when he suggested those without an employee-sponsored plan be allowed to enroll in the federal Thrift Savings Plan, which is available to members of Congress.

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Nick Thornton

Nick Thornton is a financial writer covering retirement and health care issues for BenefitsPRO and ALM Media. He greatly enjoys learning from the vast minds in the legal, academic, advisory and money management communities when covering the retirement space. He's also written on international marketing trends, financial institution risk management, defense and energy issues, the restaurant industry in New York City, surfing, cigars, rum, travel, and fishing. When not writing, he's pushing into some land or water.