Obama, Hands Off My Retirement $ – Update

This news is so new that I haven’t yet seen any analyst or pundit commenting on it. The Obama administration now wants to convert our 401(k)s and IRAs into annuities.

My gut reaction is that (a) I don’t trust this administration; (b) Since when has this administration been competent in any thing it does?; and (c) I object in principle to the government telling me what I can or cannot do with my own money!

Here’s the news:

Bloomberg’s Business Week reports today that the Obama administration wants to convert all 401(k) savings and Individual Retirement Accounts into annuities or other steady payment streams. U.S. Treasury and Labor Departments will ask for public comment as soon as next week.

According to a report by the Investment Company Institute, however, U.S. investors oppose federal initiatives that would force them to give up control over their 401(k) accounts. Seven in 10 U.S. households prefer to preserve their present retirement account features and flexibility, and object to the idea of the government requiring retirees to convert part of their savings into annuities guaranteeing a steady payment for life.

The Investment Company Institute represents the mutual-fund industry.

To read the whole article on this, CLICK HERE.

UPDATE (1/10/2010): Chatter on the Web has begun about this move by the Obama administration to force us to convert our 401(k) and IRAs into annuities. Here’s what the Market Ticker thinks:

Now this is a guaranteed rape job.

In a short conversation this noontime that CNBC apparently has omitted from their archives (Why’s that folks?) Rick Santelli was talking about a potential to effectively force money into the Treasury market.

Where would they get this?

From your 401k and IRA accounts!

Let me tell you what this is – it is an attempt to prevent the collapse of the Treasury market!

Forcing people into Treasuries as an “annuity” is exactly what Social Security allegedly is.  Except that Treasury stole the money that was collected in FICA taxes and spent it!

Guess what?  They’ll do that here too – you’re going to “invest” in Treasuries which of course are effectively a CALL option on the future taxing ability of the government.

The problem is that with an aging population and the immigrant problem (illegal immigrants that is), along with offshoring, the aggregate wage base will drop and thus this is the most dangerous investment of all!

What’s even worse is that the government has intentionally suppressed Treasury yields during this crisis (and will keep doing so by various means, including manipulating the CPI – the “inflation index” – as they have for the last 30 years) so as to guarantee that you lose over time compared to actual purchasing power.

I have no quarrel with the government mandating that you have a choice in your IRA or 401k account to buy short-duration Treasuries – much like the “G” fund that government and civil-service workers have.

But – “choices” have a funny way of turning into mandates, and this looks to me like a raw admission that Treasury knows it will not be able to sell its debt in the open market – so they will effectively tax you by forcing your “retirement” money to buy them!

This may be the only way for Treasury to hold down interest rates to something reasonable in the intermediate term, but doing so will instantaneously remove a major source of funding for the stock market – that is, the monthly and quarterly inflows from retirement accounts.

You can bet this won’t be good for you, the ordinary American.

You can also bet that once such an “option” is made available there is a very high probability of the government doing things that either promote or simply don’t stand in the way of another stock market crash as a means of “herding” your money into Treasuries – so they can blow it – all under the guise of being allegedly “safe”.

Of course this begs the question – what if the government can’t pay down the road when you retire, just as they can’t pay on a forward basis with Social Security and Medicare?

This “proposal” can only mean one thing – Treasury smells smoke.  Maybe you should pay attention to what they’re huffing!

And before you say “oh they’d never do that” I want you to read this:

Here is a warning to us all. The Argentine state is taking control of the country’s privately-managed pension funds in a drastic move to raise cash.

~Eowyn

7 responses to “Obama, Hands Off My Retirement $ – Update

  1. Well, I for one am not surprised. I saw a chart the other day that showed the projected Federal costs of Medicare, Health Care Reform and Social Security over the next 50 years or so. It’s entirely unsustainable. No way the government can meet it’s obligations. No way taxpayers can pay the taxes required to fund these programs. So something has to go. It won’t be health care, so I’m guessing Social Security. People will work until they’re physically unable and Medicare will decrease expenditures exponentially for older, non-working Americans.

    Death Panels.

    No need for Social Security. You want to survive past your working lifespan- better have an annuity.

    • I’ve seen those figures as well, Bob. The present system of social security, Medicare, Medicaid, et al, is untenable.

      The problem with “their” solution of making everyone work until we’re physically unable is this:

      WHERE ARE THE JOBS? We have an “official” unemployment rate of 10%; I’ve seen real unemployment rate of as high as 17%. And many of those lost jobs will never be restored, thanks to outsourcing and globalization.

  2. The main problem with Social Security is that payouts began too soon, about 5 years after it was implemented.

    Here’s the story of Ida May Fuller, the first person to receive monthly SS benefits:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ida_May_Fuller

    Not a bad return for such a small investment.

    There’s also the problem of illegal immigrants, who comprise about 5% of the total U.S. workforce, and those who hire them. There seems to be no shortage of jobs for these immigrants, who are willing to work for hourly wages far below the federal minimum.

    • Monte,

      I haven’t seen hard figures, but there does seem to be evidence that a good number of illegals have returned to Mexico, albeit temporarily, because of the recession.

      I am against illegal immigration in principle because it’s against the law and it’s grossly unfair to those who patiently wait for their turn, legally. But I’ve heard others make the point that our social security system would be in even worse shape had it not been for working illegals — at least those who work at legit jobs — who pay into social security.

  3. The government needs to get back to the business of governing and get out of the social welfare business. SS, Medicare, et al need to go away.

    If the government wants to help charities take over the burden they can grant them subsidies and tax breaks to encourage them.

    But if the nation is to survive, they have got to get away from these resource sinks and get back to individual principles.

    Which is exactly what they don’t want. They want everyone under the authority of government.

    Tell me something… It’s still “We the people”… right?

    • Well said, DL!

      I fear that we have passed the point of no return. So many Americans are dependent on government — federal, state, local — that a HUGE constituency is in place for the continuation of the welfare nanny state.

      40% of Americans do not pay income tax! Only 1/3 of babyboomers have saved for retirement. Social security was never meant to provide for ALL of an individual’s retirement needs, but it has become that for too many.

  4. There are several good articles on Professor Ghilarducci’s idea, which is what started the ball. I e-mailed b akc and forht with her for over two weeks two years ago, and told her what i thought of this crap. She couldn’t understand why I thought this was another step towards the government controlling every dime we make. This is another ponzi scheme , and believe me there is no altruistic agenda here, it’s all about control. The government has made a mess out of social security and medicare, and now want to control our savings and give it out in form of an annuity to you =when you retire. You will have no control at all. You won’t be able to leave it to your kids either.

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