It’s not often a scurrilous scribe like me gets to sit down andspeak to a congressman who doesn’t represent my district, let aloneone who chairs a subcommittee on regulatory matters. What struck memost during the interview (see “Exclusive Interview: Congressman Tom Marino says‘Young Working Americans Can Get Excited About’ Child IRA,”FiduciaryNews.com, August 18, 2015) was how almost everyanswer was headline worthy.

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Of all the memorable quotes, though, this one really resonated:“Congress needs to hear more about retirement issues. We need to bebetter educated on the issues and emboldened to make meaningful andfair changes. Right now, the voices of reform are largely silent.What is more ominous are the silent issues within our retirementclimate which are only getting larger.”

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Consider for a moment what Tom Marino is saying, especially inlight of what’s been going on in Washington recently. For all themany articles and loud voices on the DOL’s proposed conflict-of-interest rule,Marino is saying Congress needs to hear more—but from whom andabout what?

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What he really wants to hear isn’t the talking points ofindustry lobbyists on pet issues. He wants to hear from individualeveryday practitioners who live in the retirement planning trenchesand experiences the hopes and worries of their clients’ retirementplanning.

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Marino is astute enough to know politicians, mainly trained inlaw with precious little real-world experience, simply don't knowenough about retirement issues that matter. They need to knowmore.

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Of even greater importance, Marino realizes there are muchlarger issues than the one everyone is talking about at the moment.These “silent issues” have the potential to do significant damagedown the road to our retirement system. Unless we address themthrough experiential analysis, they’ll grow until they’ll be toobig to solve without dramatic sacrifice.

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So, are you willing to speak your mind? Are you willing to behonest about the problems that are out there?

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Sure, conflicts-of-interest fees can eat into investment returnsand should be eliminated, but why are we still focusing in oninvestments? We know there are more important issues. Here arethree to ponder:

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#1: Young adult savingsdiscipline. We all know the earlier you save, the betteroff you’ll be in retirement. Yet we don’t have a mechanism toinculcate a savings attitude within our culture. Perhaps a ChildIRA could be used for this. Maybe it’s broader financial literacyefforts in secondary schools.

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Maybe it’s using popular culture--movies, songs, TV shows,social media--to bring home the salient points. The bottom line ismany would not be in the situation they are in if only they hadstarted saving at a younger age.

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#2: Longer lifeexpectancies. There’s a new trend brewing out there inretirement land. It’s called “not retiring.” A couple generationsago, folks retired at 60 and died at 62. Today, it’s not unusual tofind people leading healthy and active lives well into their late70s and even their 80s.

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Baby boomers who “retire” in their sixties find themselves goingback to work not because they need the money, but because they needthe action. How does this change our tried-and-true retirementplanning algorithms? What kind of impact does this have on publicpolicy?

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#3: Turbo-charging retirement savingsincentives. If we want people to gain financialindependence by the time they retire, we need more, not fewer,“Romney-sized” IRAs. What incentiveswere in place that created those gigantic personal savings plansand how can we encourage more individuals to build similarly sizedretirement accounts for themselves.

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Sure, maybe not everyone is in a position to get them, but themore who do, the fewer people who will need to rely on SocialSecurity.

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Those are just three potential discussion points. You canprobably think of several more.

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The broader question is this: Once we’ve identified the criticalissues, we need to determine what government’s most appropriaterole is in addressing them. Only then can we begin to lay out atrue path to meaningful reform.

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Christopher Carosa

Chris Carosa has been writing a weekly article and monthly column for BenefitsPRO online and BenefitsPRO Magazine since 2011 and is a nationally recognized award-winning writer, researcher and speaker. He’s written seven books, including From Cradle to Retire: The Child IRA; Hey! What’s My Number? – How to Increase the Odds You Will Retire in Comfort; A Pizza The Action: Everything I Ever Learned About Business I Learned By Working in a Pizza Stand at the Erie County Fair; and the widely acclaimed 401(k) Fiduciary Solutions. Carosa is also Chief Contributing Editor of the authoritative trade journal FiduciaryNews.com and publisher of the Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel, a weekly community newspaper he founded in 1989. Currently serving as President of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and with more than 1,000 articles published in various publications, he appears regularly in the national media. A “parallel” entrepreneur, he actively runs a handful of businesses, including a small boutique investment adviser, providing hands-on experience for his writing. A trained astrophysicist, he also holds an MBA and has been designated a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor. Share your thoughts and story ideas with him through Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/christophercarosa/)and Twitter (https://twitter.com/ChrisCarosa).