Romney, Obama skip benefits questionnaire

Breaking a tradition established during the 1984 elections, presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama each declined to participate in an employee benefit questionnaire submitted by organizations representing benefits professionals, along with Pensions & Investments.

The effort is coordinated by Sam Gilbert, president of The Pension Forum and of United Plan Administrators in Westlake Village, Calif.

In addition to questions from The Pension Forum, topics are submitted by officials at the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries, Plan Sponsor Council of America, National Institute of Pension Administrators, The American Academy of Actuaries, Employers Council on Flexible Compensation, Society of Professional Benefit Administrators, The United States Chamber of Commerce and Small Business Council of America.

P&I published the questions on Aug. 20.

A top concern for the groups in 2012 is how the tax preference for retirement savings will be treated in the expected debate in Washington over tax reform and as both parties grapple with a looming federal budget crisis.

The benefit groups also asked what the candidates would do to encourage more retirement savings.

Pensions and retirement security were briefly mentioned in the party platforms approved at the Republican and Democratic national conventions earlier this year.

Republicans worried about the potential impact that underfunded corporate pension plans could have on the PBGC, while Democrats supported promoting workplace retirement accounts but offered little detail on how to accomplish that.

This article originally appeared in the October 29, 2012 print issue as, "Romney, Obama skip benefits questionnaire".