NU Online News Service, Feb. 6, 3:24 p.m. – The U.S. defined contribution retirement plan system has helped most participants, according to Dallas Salisbury, president of the Employee Benefit Research Institute, Washington.

Salisbury, who plans to testify Thursday at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, is warning Congress against tinkering with the U.S. retirement system in ways that might reduce diversity or hurt Americans who end up working for many different employers.

The well-publicized problems with the 401(k) plans at Enron Corp., Houston, and Enron’s subsidiaries have given some the impression that “the entire 401(k) system is in crisis,” Salisbury says in an advance copy of his testimony.

“That is not true,” Salisbury says. “As we deal with Enron, we must take care not to inappropriately undermine confidence in 401(k), IRA, and other programs, which are sound for the vast majority of participants.”

When investors can count on several different sources of retirement funds, they can afford to take more risks with the assets they control, Salisbury says.

The extra risks can increase overall returns, Salisbury says.

An advance copy of Salisbury’s testimony is available on the EBRI Web site, at http://www.ebri.org/testimony/t132.pdf