07.12.11

Enzi Calls for Inclusion of Retirement and Benefit Issues in Efforts to Reduce Regulatory Burdens

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a hearing on defined benefit retirement systems today, Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, called for a greater inclusion of retirement and benefit issues in the Administration’s plan to reduce regulatory burdens and overlap.

“Through the years, I have been a supporter of the traditional defined benefit plan system as it forms one of the key legs of our three-legged retirement system, together with 401(k)s, IRAs and Social Security,” said Senator Enzi.  “I also recognize that if people do not save enough through their 401(k)s and IRAs for retirement then these people will place a greater strain on our very shaky federal entitlement programs. However, we have to be realistic.  The private sector’s traditional defined benefit system is heading towards extinction.  The system has become too burdensome, too complex, too volatile and too costly for companies to maintain.” 

Senator Enzi noted that statistics compiled by the Department of Labor and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) show the height of the traditional defined benefit plans occurred in the mid-1980s when more than 112,000 plans were counted by the PBGC.  By 2008, that number shrunk to a little bit more than 27,000 plans.  According to the Department of Labor, recent statistics show that there are currently only 9,500 traditional medium to large-sized benefit plans that have 100 or more participants.

Senator Enzi also said one of the problems facing the defined benefit system is that the three federal agencies tasked with oversight, the Employee Benefits Security Administration at the Department of Labor, the PBGC and the Internal Revenue Service, do not work in tandem. 

“Instead each of these agencies has their own agendas for how the retirement system should be run,” Senator Enzi said.  “This is not only detrimental to the retirement system, but it also discourages the business community from participating in the voluntary retirement systems that we have today.  There must be greater inclusion of retirement and employee benefit issues by these agencies in carrying out the President’s recent Executive Order to reduce regulatory burden and overlap.”

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