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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 23, 1996


I am pleased to transmit today for the consideration of the Congress the "Retirement Savings and Security Act." This legislation is designed to empower all Americans to save for their retirement by expanding pension coverage, increasing portability, and enhancing security. By using both employer and individual tax-advantaged retirement savings programs, Americans can benefit from the opportunities of our changing economy while assuring themselves and their families greater security for the future. A general explanation of the Act accompanies this transmittal.

Today, over 58 million American public and private sector workers are covered by employer-sponsored pension or retirement savings plans. Millions more have been able to save through Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). The Retirement Savings and Security Act would help expand pensions to the over 51 million American private-sector workers -- including over three-quarters of the workers in small businesses -- who are not covered by an employer-sponsored pension or retirement savings program and need both the opportunity and encouragement to start saving. Women particularly need this expanded coverage: fewer than one-third of all women retirees who are 55 or older receive pension benefits, compared with 55 percent of male retirees.

The Act would also help the many workers who participate in pension plans to continue to save when they change jobs. It would reassure all workers who save through employer-sponsored plans that the money they have saved, as well as that put aside by employers on their behalf, will be there when they need it.

The Retirement Savings and Security Act would:

            ensure that returning veterans retain pension benefits 
            and that workers receive their retirement savings even 
            when a previous employer is no longer in existence.
       o    Expand eligibility for tax-deductible IRAs to 20 
            million more families.  In addition, the Act would 
            encourage savings by making the use of IRAs more 
            flexible by allowing penalty-free withdrawals for 
            education and training, purchase of a first home, 
            catastrophic medical expenses, and long-term 
            unemployment.  It would also provide an additional IRA 
            option that provides tax-free distributions instead of 
            tax-deductible contributions.
       o    Enhance pension security by protecting the savings of 
            millions of State and local workers from their 
            employer's bankruptcy, as happened in Orange County, 
            California.  The Act would (1) require prompt 
            reporting by plan administrators and accountants of 
            any serious and egregious misuse of funds; (2) double 
            the guaranteed benefit for participants in 
            multiemployer plans in the unlikely event such a plan 
            becomes insolvent; and (3) enhance benefits of a 
            surviving spouse and dependents under the Civil 
            Service Retirement System and the Railroad Retirement 
       o    Ensure that pension raiding, such as that which 
            drained $20 billion out of retirement funds in the 
            1980s, never happens again -- by retaining the strong 
            current laws preventing such abuses and by requiring 
            periodic reports on reversions by the Secretary of 
       Many of the provisions of the Retirement Savings and 

Security Act are new. In particular, provisions facilitating saving from the first day on the job, in both the private sector and the Federal Government; the doubling of the multi-employer guarantee; and improving benefits for surviving spouses and dependents of participants in the Civil Service Retirement System and the Railroad Retirement System deserve special consideration by the Congress. In addition, many of the provisions and concepts in this Act have been previously proposed by this Administration and have broad bipartisan support.

American workers deserve pension security -- as well as a decent wage, lifelong access to high quality education and training, and health security -- to take advantage of the opportunities of our growing economy.

I urge the prompt and favorable consideration of this legislative proposal by the Congress.



May 23, 1996.

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