401(k) Seizure? Time for a Dose of Reality

by John Glynn on November 17, 2008

Another vein of panic running through the foundation of the economic and financial stability – whatever amount of it is left – is a concern over an impending seizure by the government of 401(k) balances to be used for some nationalized program used for bailout funds. The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial on Friday, allowing this widespread concern to proliferate.

You can disregard any fear over this – it ain’t gonna happen.

According to George Miller (D-CA), who is chairman of house Committee on Education and Labor, this is nowhere near the intention or goal of Miller, or anybody else in congress.

Miller’s hearings on 401(k) legislation have the following objectives:
1. Expose excess fees that Wall St middlemen take from workers accounts
2. Bring young and low wage workers into the system
3. Ensure that retirement accounts have diversified investment options with low fees
4. Ensure workers have access to reliable independent investment advice
5. Reduce vesting periods and portability of 401(k) accounts

Congressman Earl Pomeroy (D-FL), member of the House Ways and Means Committee, says he is against anything of the sort, and suggests that this concept was born out of political gaming, pushed by conservatives as a threat of what a Democratic leadership landscape might bring.

Speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi, says “we would never even consider a proposal to seize retirement assets.” in a statement issued to Ric Edelman, financial planner, when asked specifically about this topic.

One of the voices pushing this concept, Teresa Ghilarducci of New York’s New School for Social Research, who is referenced in the Wall Street Journal piece, even claims in an interview with Edelman that her comments were taken way out of context. However sour on the concept of 401(k)s, she admits she was never suggesting that the government take the funds under control.

If you want more information about participating in 401(k) plans, please contact your plan administrator at work, or your financial planner. If you would like a referral to a financial planner, please contact me.

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