Alexander Calls For Best Ideas On “Simple Plan For Voluntary Savings That Employers Would Be More Likely To Adopt”

Thursday, January 31, 2013

At a hearing Thursday of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on retirement savings, ranking member Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.), asked four expert witnesses to “start from scratch” and offer the committee a simple plan for voluntary savings that employers would be more likely to adopt.

“Because of the problems of complexity, legalese, and liability, there seem to be plenty of opportunities to make it easier for employees to choose plans to adequately save for their retirements,” Senator Alexander said. 

Senator Alexander suggested that the plan include automatic enrollment and automatic increases in levels of savings in order to increase the amount of money that employees would have for their retirement – in a case of automatic enrollment or increase the employee would immediately be able to opt-out of the contribution if the employee chose to do so, for whatever reason.

He said that Social Security and the current number of private savings plans are not going to be enough to provide adequate retirement for many Americans --- just 68 percent of private-sector workers are employed at establishments that offer one or more retirement plans, according to the National Compensation Survey from March 2012.

“More and more Americans are becoming independent contractors or part-time employees and are not working for a company that will offer the plans,” he said.

He cautioned against new mandates on businesses saying, “small businesses are struggling with the cost of the health care law and cannot tolerate any new mandates to provide automatic savings accounts.”

Providing an example at the hearing, Senator Alexander said he recently met with a franchise group that owns nearly 20 fast food restaurants. The company, which has 542 full-time employees, faces 6.2 percent Social Security and Medicare taxes for each employee, a menu labeling mandate that costs $1,000 per restaurant, minimum wage mandates that cost nearly $25,000 a year, and paid sick leave mandates.

The health-care mandates will increase their costs: “They tell me they offer health care to all of their 542 employees but only 34 take it. If nothing changed next year—that is, if the health care law didn’t come into effect—they would still be spending more than $94,000 in health care. Under the health care law, if they opt to pay the penalty, they’ll be spending $1 million, instead of $94,000. That exceeds their entire net profit for the year 2013. If they were to decide to continue to offer health care, their costs would be between $400,000 and $1.4 million. You could apply the same sort of reasoning and statistics to a smaller company and come out with a similar result.”

 


Michael Williams Has Law License Suspended

Michael Gregory Williams, of Hamilton County, was suspended from the practice of law on Thursday by Order of the Tennessee Supreme Court for four years.  The suspension will begin on Nov. 9. A Petition for Discipline was filed on Oct. 30, 2013, alleging that Mr. Williams had misappropriated funds from an estate for which he had been appointed administrator and had failed ... (click for more)

Browns Ferry Unit 1 Completes Refueling, Back Online

The Unit 1 reactor at the TVA’s Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant returned to service at 8:16 p.m. CDT on Wednesday, following the successful completion of a planned refueling and maintenance outage.  Plant operators will be raising power over the next several days until the unit once again achieves full power. “The Browns Ferry team worked hard to refuel and prepare Unit 1 for ... (click for more)

Downtown Chattanooga Apartment Complex That Brought $3 Million Profit Exempt From Most Taxes Until 2022 Under PILOT

A downtown Chattanooga apartment complex that recently was sold at a $3 million profit is exempt from most property taxes through 2022 under a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement.   No payment of school taxes was included in the deal for Walnut Commons at Walnut Street and Aquarium Way.   The only taxes due on the property for the next eight ... (click for more)

Cold, Wet Front To Make For Chilly And Damp Trick Or Treating; Snow Showers Possible Saturday

A surge of cold, moist air will make for less-than-ideal trick or treat conditions on Halloween night. Temperatures are expected to dip below freezing this weekend. There is a possibility of snow showers in Chattanooga on Saturday. Here is the latest forecast: Today Showers likely, mainly after 5pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 58. Calm wind becoming northwest ... (click for more)

A Vote For Education Is Critical In Tennessee

In a state where just 28 percent of eighth graders are proficient in math and 33 percent are proficient in reading according to national assessments, education is deserving of more attention in 2014 elections. Across the country, more parents are making informed decisions about their child’s education, but for Volunteer State parents without resources, choices are difficult to come ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Saban: ‘Ratings Don’t Matter’

When the first College Football Playoff rankings were released earlier this week, Alabama football coach Nick Saban got it right on the button when he shrugged, “I don't even care, to be honest with you." "To me, none of it matters, What does it matter?” he laughed at the Tide’s No. 6 ranking. “I mean, it only matters where you end up at the end. So what matters to us is how ... (click for more)