The retirement industry was expecting to hear more specifics from President Obama in his State of the Union address.
That didn’t happen, despite the fact that the White House released a fact sheet detailing retirement reforms the weekend before the speech. The assumption from everyone was that the president’s ideas on reforming retirement tax incentives and expanding retirement savings opportunities would get some attention come Tuesday evening.
But specifics were not to be found in the speech, and Obama ended up mentioning “retirement” just twice and only in a peripheral way.
“I was and wasn’t surprised,” said Jim Klein, president of the American Benefits Council, referring to the papering over of retirement policy.
“A lot of us were expecting a bit more, given that advance word was that retirement policy was a part of the larger tax reform issues the president was expected to highlight.”
But, as many political commentators have noted, Klein said the speech clearly didn’t turn out to be the “laundry list” of legislative proposals that presidents typically deliver in their State of the Union addresses.
Actually, Obama did talk about trade, Cuba and higher education, among other items, but, again, made little reference to retirement.
The White House on Wednesday noted that Obama, at the top of his address, told the audience he wanted to “focus less on a checklist of proposals, and focus more on the values at stake in the choices before us.”
That’s why, it said, the fact sheet included items that were not in the speech.
Alan Glickstein, a senior retirement consultant at Towers Watson, said he wasn’t anticipating too many specifics.
“These tend to be complicated and technical issues, and the president said early on it wasn’t going to be a policy speech. There wasn’t even that much specifically said on health care,” Glickstein said.