Government help may be required to solve the retirement crisis,says a MarketWatch report, and among the steps it should take todo so are improved Social Security benefits and auto-IRAs.

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The actions of the government under the Trump administrationthus far have been to overturn previous efforts to allow states toset up retirement plans for workers without running afoul offederal pension laws, the report says.

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It points toward the resolution signed by Trump last month tokill the safe harbor that had been created bythe Labor Department to help the states launch retirement plans forworkers in the private sector whose employers don’t offer suchplans.

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This is in contrast to measures that should be aimed atimproving a situation the World Economic Forum reports as not justa U.S. crisis but a global one.

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WEF figures indicate that the worldwide retirement savings gapin 2015 is estimated to be $70 trillion, with the largest shortfallbeing in the U.S.—and, just in the U.S., the savings gap is growingat a rate of $3 trillion per year.

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A big part of the problem is the number of people who lack theopportunity to save in an employer-sponsored retirement plan.Indeed, MarketWatch cites estimates putting the number of peoplewho do not have a retirement plan at work at about 50 percent ofthe workforce: some 55–63 million workers altogether.

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Even though the Trump administration has killed off the safeharbor, some of the states that have already enacted retirementplans intend to proceed with them—at least for now. But if thataction is halted by the government—and only seven states havealready passed retirement plans—what’s to be done?

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According to Anna Rappaport, president at Anna RappaportConsulting and chair of the Society of Actuaries’ Committee on Post-RetirementNeeds and Risks, people shouldn’t be looking to very smallemployers to add retirement plans.

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In the report, Rappaport says, “There have been a variety ofefforts to make it easy for small employers [to set up plans], butthere remain many small employers who do not set up plans.” This isat least partly due to the expense and complexity of health careplans, which for employers are usually a priority. But that doesn’tmean there isn’t a solution.

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Rappaport adds, “We need to think about where the coverageproblem is coming from. Two big sources of the coverage problem arevery small employers and people who do not have ongoing regularfull-time jobs. I think it would make sense to do an honestassessment to see how much improvement in coverage isachievable.”

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And that improvement could come, first and foremost, fromimproving Social Security benefits, especially for those at the lowend of the income scale. “Social Security is extremely importantand that must be recognized,” she says.

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And after that? A federal auto-IRA that could be combined withthe existing government myRA program, followed by the improvement oflow-paying jobs and expansion of employment opportunities.

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While there’s been some suggestion that multi-employer planscould provide an answer, Rappoport isn’t so sure. “I think it isimportant that adequate controls be in place, and that care shouldbe taken how they are structured,” she is quoted saying, adding, “Idoubt that they will increase coverage very much unless there is amandate, and this also seems unlikely. I strongly prefer improvingSocial Security to mandating an additional layer of coverage.”

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