The Asset Building Program is co-hosting an event Monday, November 7th with the Pension Rights Center and AARP to discuss concepts put forth in Ellen Schultz’s book Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers. The event will feature the book’s author Ellen Schultz, Phyllis Borzi of the Employee Benefits Security Administration at the Department of Labor, Donald Fuerst from the American Academy of Actuaries, Karen Ferguson from the Pension Rights Center, Michael Calabrese from New America, and David Certner from AARP.
Retirement security has been a key theme this fall for the Asset Building Program. We hosted another retirement-themed event in October that coincided with the release of a policy paper Facing Up to the Retirement Savings Deficit. This event will build on that conversation (available here online as a video) and discuss the impact of a decline in employer-sponsored pensions and benefits. In her book, Ellen Schultz documents the way in which employers have cut costs by moving employees away from pensions (which require more investment from the employer) toward 401(k)s. As the full title of the book suggests, she characterizes this move as theft of people's hard-earned savings. Schultz expanded during an NPR interview in September, "The main narrative is that [companies] are struggling to pay both their pensions and these unexpectedly high health care costs for the retirees. What isn't known is that companies were well-prepared for this phenomenon. The plans were in fact significantly overfunded. They had more than enough to pay every dime for every person currently employed and already retired." Unfortunately for workers, while sleazy, there doesn't appear to be anything illegal about the actions of companies.
The panelists at the October event uniformly noted there is an impending retirement security crisis. Ellen Schultz's argument that the crisis is in fact man-made is sure to provoke a lively debate on Monday. Please join us for the discussion or watch the event live online.