President Donald Trump's Aug. 31 executive order directing administration officials to expand retirement savings options by revisiting rules on open multiple employer plans and minimum distributions was welcomed by retirement savings advocates, who say legislative changes are also necessary.
"Small businesses will no longer be at a competitive disadvantage, and small-business workers will now have many more choices," Mr. Trump said at a North Carolina event announcing the order. He was joined by Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who said, "401(k)s are a straightforward, proven vehicle" to retirement savings that could help an estimated 42 million people who work for small businesses.
James Sherk, White House domestic policy special assistant, said on a White House press briefing call, "Basically, we will be trying to find policy ideas that will help make joining a 401(k) plan a more attractive proposition for small employers, to the ultimate benefit to their employees."
Mr. Sherk said the timeline would range from 180 days for proposing regulations "to as long as a year for making sure that we get the paperwork side of this right."
Lynn Dudley, senior vice president for global retirement and compensation policy with the American Benefits Council in Washington, called the order "a positive step forward. More can and should be done to help employers sponsor plans, including multiple employer plans, and retain the plans that they are voluntarily sponsoring," Ms. Dudley said. Her group supports legislation to expand MEPs. "We hope that the renewed focus on retirement security results in laws that encourage employers to provide savings plans and help employees share in the prosperity of the American economy," Ms. Dudley said.
Preston Rutledge, assistant secretary of labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration, said on the press call that the extent and details of the changes will have to be worked out. "That's exactly what the whole regulatory process will be about, and why we would go through the administrative procedure process and seek public comment."