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.”

 



Chattanooga Police Department Sponsors Crime Prevention Training For Business Owners And Managers

The Chattanooga Police Department is sponsoring free crime prevention training primarily designed for business owners and managers who are interested in making their facility and employees as safe as possible. A nationally-accredited Crime Prevention specialist from the University of Tennessee’s Law Enforcement Innovation Center will cover the following topics during the four-hour ... (click for more)

TVA Opens Public Comment Period On Scope Of Integrated Resource Plan Update

The Tennessee Valley Authority kicked off a public comment period on Feb. 15, related to the initial process phase for updating its Integrated Resource Plan, the agency’s long-term energy resource strategy.  To ensure that the full range of issues and a comprehensive portfolio of energy resources are addressed, TVA invites members of the public, customers, businesses, employees, ... (click for more)

Erlanger Has Unique Ribbon Cutting For $16 Million Heart And Lung Institute

Erlanger Health System unveiled its new $16 million Heart and Lung Institute on Thursday with a unique ribbon cutting. Dr. Larry Shears, a renowned heart surgeon who was recruited for the center, used the Da Vinci robot that he often operates with to clip a ribbon by remote control. The "hospital within a hospital" is on the fourth floor of the Baroness Erlanger campus on E. ... (click for more)

City Files Petition To Turn Confederate Cemetery Over To Sons Of The Confederacy

The city of Chattanooga has filed a petition in Chancery Court asking that management of the Confederate Cemetery be turned over to the Sons of the Confederacy. The Sons of the Confederacy, a group that has long taken care of the cemetery, joined in the petition. The cemetery is located by the UTC campus. It is beside the Citizens Cemetery and the Jewish Cemetery on the old ... (click for more)

Reflections On Billy Graham

Sandra and I are saddened this morning after learning of the death of Billy Graham. We rejoice today, because Mr. Graham once said "It will be reported that Billy Graham has died, but that won't be the truth. He said the truth is that he had only moved to a new location".  I remember when we named 15th Street as Billy Graham Avenue, his daughter Gigi came for the dedication ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Me & Billy Graham

For several years in my life it seemed my bad arm and I spent more time at Mayo Clinic than we did in my own house. I hold the record for the most different infections in an elbow at the same time, and my medical charts never had my name on them, instead I was simply, “Mr. Complication.” One morning in particular I spent a horrible three hours in the “nerve conduction lab” with ... (click for more)