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Congressman Pension Issues Belong in Ways and Means

March 10, 2009
Related Topics: Finance/Taxes, Retirement/Pensions, Policies and Procedures, Latest News
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The House Ways and Means Committee, not the House Education and Labor Committee, should have jurisdiction over 401(k)s and other pension plans, said Rep. Richard Neal, D-Massachusetts.

House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-California, has already launched a series of hearings on 401(k) and other potential pension reforms this year.

In remarks Thursday, March 5, at the Investment Company Institute’s 2009 Retirement Savings Summit in Washington, Neal said the Ways and Means Committee—which he is a member of—should be in the driver’s seat on pension issues. “He [Mr. Miller] has a small slice of it,” Neal said after his remarks. “It’s our responsibility.”

Aaron Albright, a spokesman for Miller, declined to comment.

Neal, who chairs the House Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee, also said he planned to introduce legislation in the next several weeks—which would enact a proposal in President Barack Obama’s 2010 budget blueprint—to require employers who don’t currently offer a retirement program to enroll their employees in a direct-deposit individual retirement account. But Neal also said he would consider ways that would prevent the program from becoming mandatory.

Also at the conference, Tom Reeder, benefits tax counsel for the Department of Treasury, said agency guidance on how defined-benefit plan sponsors should smooth assets in calculating their pension-funding obligations should be forthcoming within the next several days. President George W. Bush signed legislation December 23 that makes clear that pension funds can smooth their assets over the 24-month period. But according to Reeder, the plans can’t actually do the smoothing calculations until the Treasury issues its guidance.

Filed by Doug Halonen of Pensions & Investments, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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