STATEMENT: KRC Condemns U.S. Senate Action to Prevent Cities from Improving Retirement Security for Private Sector Workers

Date of Press Release: 
March 30, 2017
HARRISBURG – Stephen Herzenberg, economist and Executive Director of the Keystone Research Center, issued the following statement in response to today's Senate vote on H.J. Resolution 67 on cities making it easier for private-sector employees to save for retirement:
“Earlier today, Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey joined all but one member of the Republican Majority in the U.S. Senate to block large cities such as Philadelphia, New York, and Seattle from empowering employees of private-sector companies to save for retirement. Sen. Toomey and his colleagues made clear that they stand for the Wall Street financial firms who charge bigger fees to individuals who set up retirement savings plans on their own. Sen. Toomey and his colleagues stand against the Main Street retirees that would benefit when big cities bargain lower fees from financial services vendors and use competitive bids to select high-quality savings options.

"The passage of House Joint Resolution 67 repeals a U.S. Labor Department rule enacted last year. The rule eliminated a legal grey area so that big cities could make it easy for the half of private-sector workers who have no retirement plan through their job to set up a retirement savings account. About three million Pennsylvania workers, and hundreds of thousands in Philadelphia, have no retirement plan through their job.

"Sen. Toomey is out of step with Republicans in Philadelphia (City Councilman Al Taubenberger) and his own Lehigh Valley area (state Senator Pat Browne) who want Philadelphia and Pennsylvania to join the national movement to promote individual responsibility by empowering people to save for retirement (as explained in this op-ed ed board memo , and blog post ).

"Sen. Toomey and his colleagues have one more chance to get this right and to side with Main Street savers not Wall Street financial firms. A companion H.J. Res. (66) has not yet been voted on and could up for a vote at any point in the next month. We strongly urge Pennsylvania editorial boards and citizens to weigh in with Sen. Toomey to oppose the Paul Ryan small savers' tax and vote no on H.J. Res. 66.

"With his vote today, Sen. Toomey today stood against the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce ( see their letter in opposition here ), Small Business Majority AARP , and many others. He stood with financial services firms, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce , the Trump White House and every single one of Pennsylvania’s 13 Congressional Republicans, who voted for H.J. Res 66 and 67 Feb. 15. In the Senate, Republican Sen. Bob Corker from Tennessee voted against H.J. Res 67, joining all Democratic Senators, including Sen. Bob Casey."