401(k) plans are not going anywhere

Labor economist and TikTok creator Kathryn Anne Edwards, in a recent webinar, claimed that 401(k) plans alone are failing to solve the retirement crisis in America and that the federal government needs to take a more active role in providing access to retirement savings.

Edwards argued the Federal government should stop subsidizing 401(k) accounts (by making contributions tax-deductible) because she says it uses about 1% of the country’s GDP (in potential, unrealized taxes) to benefit the retirement savings of the wealthiest 25% of Americans.

Instead, she supports a program similar to the Federal Retirement Thrift Savings Plan. The program would give workers access to portable, tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts, with federal matching contributions for certain low- and middle-income workers.

I think if we want to eliminate 401(k) plans, you can’t find a worse idea than having retirement accounts with the Federal government. As far as tax incentives benefiting the rich, the fact is that with a high tax burden and a high cost of living, many people can’t save for retirement if they are low or middle-class employees.

Too much blame is hoisted on an inanimate object (401(k) plans), and too little blame is placed on a government that failed to create a Social Security trust fund and failed to rein in reckless spending. In addition, Wall Street makes so much money off 401(k) plans, that their lobby won’t allow a public sector replacement.

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