Since the time is drawing nigh that the Obama Administration will be officially christened, it’s important to refresh our memories about how the new Administration has proposed to handle retirement planning issues.
With his transition team in place and a Democratic majority in the Congress, Washington experts predict Barack Obama will hit the ground running once he becomes the next President. “We can expect a very quick start for the new administration and the new Congress in terms of pursuing their agenda,” said Frank McArdle, head of Hewitt Associates’ Washington, D.C., office during a recent Webcast on how the Obama Administration and the 111th Congress will deal with healthcare and retirement issues. Obama has vowed that his first priority will be getting the economy back on track, despite the fact that he’ll face a budget deficit of nearly $1 trillion in 2009. McArdle noted that Obama has said “he’s not concerned about the deficit in 2009 and even 2010,” as his “primary focus is on getting the economy running smoothly again and for that reason, deficit spending is not only permissible but helpful.”
Healthcare is also a key priority for Obama and for Congress this year. Plus, said McArdle, “There are also going to be significant tax policies that could directly or indirectly affect tax-favored employee benefits.” Executive compensation, too, will be “in the forefront throughout 2009 with a variety of proposals likely to be enacted,” McArdle said. Obama has also promised an economic stimulus bill. “That’s of interest not only for how it will help the economy, businesses, and workers but for other provisions it might carry related to employee benefits,” McArdle noted. “For example, right now for those of you who sponsor defined benefit plans there are a number of proposals to try and get temporary relief from the big increases in contributions that are now required because of the economic downturn and volatility.”