President George W. Bush failed to discuss the real retirement crisis in his Feb. 2 State of the Union address, experts say.
Rather than devote a chunk of his speech to the ostensible bankruptcy of Social Security, Mr. Bush should have focused on the precipitous decline in employer-offered pension plans and the anemic rate of private savings, they said.
Some speculate he deliberately avoided the subject to avoid giving Democrats an issue to trumpet.
"Focusing on Social Security is, in fact, ignoring the bigger problem," said John Rother, director of legislation and public policy at the AARP, Washington.
Said Mark J. Ugoretz, president of the ERISA Industry Committee, Washington: "It was disappointing that he didn't talk about other aspects of retirement security reforms for the private system to create new plans and maintain their existing plans.
"At least a mention of that would have been important."
James A. Klein, president of the American Benefits Council, Washington, said he was not surprised Mr. Bush failed to mention pension reform. But there's still hope. "It's possible that Congress, unable to reach agreement on something like Social Security, might instead direct its attention to private pension reform. It could go either way, but ideally Congress would like to be able to do both," Mr. Klein said.