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DNC platform short on details for private-sector retirement plans

DNC 2012
Delegate at the Democratic National Convention

Private-sector retirement plans got a passing mention Tuesday at the Democratic National Convention, where the party platform focused on Social Security.

Delegates gathered in Charlotte, N.C., learned that their party's platform states that President Barack Obama “will make it easier for Americans to save on their own for retirement and prepare for unforeseen expenses by participating in retirement accounts at work,” but details of how that strategy would be implemented were absent.

The platform presents priorities “in broader strokes,” said a DNC official who did not want to be identified.

The DNC platform being presented to delegates pledges to protect Social Security “for this and future generations,” and criticized Republicans who “have shown a shocking willingness to gut these programs to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest.”

The Republican convention platform, approved Aug. 29, calls for “comprehensive reform” of Social Security including a higher retirement age and slower rate of benefit growth for higher income earners, while allowing younger workers to have personal investment accounts.

In response, the DNC platform, which delegates are expected to approve Tuesday, pledges to “block Republican efforts to subject Americans' guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market through privatization. We reject approaches that insist that cutting benefits is the only answer.”

Karen Friedman, executive vice president and policy director for the Pension Rights Center in Washington, said her group appreciated the DNC's strong stance on protecting Social Security, “but what we really need is a holistic retirement income policy that talks about the need to create secure and adequate pensions on top of Social Security. Just telling people to save is not enough. Both parties really fall short on that.”