U.S. President Barack Obama has announced new initiatives designed to
make it easier for Americans to save for retirement. The announcement
comes as the nation celebrates the Labor Day holiday in honor of
They may have worked all their lives, but
for one reason or another, many Americans have ended up in old age
struggling to make ends meet.
In his weekly Internet address, President Obama said the economic recession has added to the problem.
the past two years, the American people have lost about $2 trillion in
retirement savings. This carries a painful toll," he said.
president said tens of millions of families have been unable to put
away enough money for a secure retirement. But he said, the government
is planning to help.
"We have to revive this economy and rebuild
it stronger than before. And making sure that folks have the
opportunity and incentive to save - for a home or college, for
retirement or a rainy day - is essential to that effort," he said. "If
you work hard and meet your responsibilities, this country is going to
honor our collective responsibility to you: to ensure you can save and
secure your retirement."
President Obama said the government
will make it easier for workers at small businesses to automatically
enroll in retirement savings plans.
He said the government
will also make it easier for people to save their federal tax refunds,
with an option for depositing the money into their retirement accounts.
Those without retirement plans can check a box on their tax returns to
get their refunds as a savings bond.
Another new option will
allow workers leaving a job to put payments for unused vacation and
sick days into their retirement plan.
But savings problems are
just one of the worries gripping the country. This week's Republican
address focused on concerns over President Obama's plans for health
Congressman John Kline, the top Republican on the
House Education and Labor Committee, repeated the Republicans' view
that the Democrat-proposed legislation amounts to a government takeover.
time to press the reset button," he said. "Health care reform doesn't
have to be a partisan battle. It doesn't have to take away coverage
from Americans who like what they have. It doesn't have to put federal
bureaucrats in charge of what procedure is covered and what medication
Some Americans seem to agree. The issue ignited a firestorm recently in town hall meetings sponsored by congressional Democrats.
"People want less government. That is what they don't get. We want 'leave us alone,'" said a town hall participant in Iowa.
said the proposal could also cost the U.S. millions of jobs as a result
of health-related taxes he said most businesses cannot afford to pay.
Obama has said the public health insurance plan would operate just like
private plans and that any bill he signs will have to reduce costs and
provide affordable choices to the uninsured.