Early enthusiasts of 401(k) plans regret what the retirement plan has become

Timothy W. Martin has an article in The Wall Street Journal where he writes about how the early backers of 401(k) plans regret their support of this type of retirement plan. Martin writes:

Many early backers of the 401(k) now say they have regrets about how their creation turned out despite its emergence as the dominant way most Americans save. Some say it wasn’t designed to be a primary retirement tool and acknowledge they used forecasts that were too optimistic to sell the plan in its early days. Others say the proliferation of 401(k) plans has exposed workers to big drops in the stock market and high fees from Wall Street money managers while making it easier for companies to shed guaranteed retiree payouts.

“The great lie is that the 401(k) was capable of replacing the old system of pensions,” says former American Society of Pension Actuaries head Gerald Facciani, who helped turn back a 1986 Reagan administration push to kill the 401(k). “It was oversold.” Misgivings about 401(k) plans are part of a larger debate over how best to boost the savings of all Americans. Some early 401(k) backers are now calling for changes that either force employees to save more or require companies to funnel additional money into their workers’ retirement plans. Current regulations provide incentives to set up voluntary plans but don’t require employees or companies to take any specific action.

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