EBRI Notes

Retirement Policy Directions in 2017 and Beyond

Feb 27, 2017 8  pages


With a new Congress and a new president in Washington, how are U.S. retirement policies likely to change? Possibly quite radically, and for two main reasons.

First, because of the new majority’s plans to overhaul the entire U.S. tax structure and federal budget in ways that could fundamentally change how private-sector retirement plans are treated in the tax code. Retirement, as a stand-alone issue, is no longer a high legislative priority in Washington.

And second, because of the drive to simplify and lower income tax rates, tax-favored retirement provisions in the tax code are vulnerable. As one of the top sources of “revenue foregone” by the federal government, ending or reducing current tax breaks for employment-based retirement plans (particularly 401(k)s) would free up revenue for other things the new Congress and president want to do.

These and other issues were discussed at the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s December 2016 policy forum in Washington, DC, attended by more than a hundred people, on the topic “Retirement Policy Directions in 2017 and Beyond.” Panelists included:

  • Shai Akabas, director of fiscal policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
  • Randy DeFrehn, executive director of the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans.
  • Alane Dent, vice president for federal affairs at the American Council of Life Insurers.
  • Josh Gotbaum of the Brookings Institution Retirement Security Project and former director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.
  • Brian Graff, CEO of the American Retirement Association.
  • Will Hansen, senior vice president of retirement policy with the ERISA Industry Committee.
  • Randy Hardock, a partner in the benefits law firm of Davis & Harman, a former staffer with the Senate Finance Committee, and a former official in the U.S. Treasury Department.
  • David John, a retirement expert with AARP and the Brookings Institution.
  • Eugene Steuerle, a tax expert with the Urban Institute.