President Barack Obama

Obama launches 'MyRA' in State of the Union address

President Barack Obama will direct the Department of Treasury on Wednesday to start working on a new retirement savings bond program to help workers without retirement savings plans, he said in his State of the Union address Tuesday night. Similar to existing workplace deductions for savings bonds, the proposed “MyRA” retirement savings bond program is aimed at lower-wage workers, who would have tax benefits similar to individual retirement accounts, and whose accounts could be rolled into IRAs when balances reach a sizable amount. The new bond program would not require congressional action. "This is a beginner's plan," said Lynn Dudley, senior vice president of policy for the American Benefits Council in Washington." This is a way on a voluntary basis of giving people more access. It's a practical solution for people who don't have access to a plan. We know that access leads to participation, and we also know that participation leads to savings, so why not give it a try?" Ms. Dudley said. Sen. Tom Harkin said that while he commends the president for recognizing a retirement crisis and trying to help the middle class save more, "he has limited tools." Mr. Harkin, who will introduce legislation Thursday that would create a universal retirement program, said, "It's time for Congress to tackle the issue by rolling up our sleeves and getting to work." Mr. Obama challenged Congress to help more people save for retirement by offering all workers access to automatic individual retirement accounts on the job. "Work with me to fix an upside-down tax code that gives big tax breaks to help the wealthy save, but does little to nothing for middle-class Americans," Mr. Obama said in his speech. Mandating automatic IRAs "is a bigger political lift," Ms. Dudley noted.