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Letter to Congressional Leaders on Proposed Legislation To Protect Retirement Plan Savings

December 07, 1995

Dear __________:

Since the beginning of this Administration, we have worked together to protect the retirement savings of hard-working Americans. Last year, Congress passed legislation proposed by the Administration that secured the retirement promises made to over 40 million workers in traditional pension plans.

Now we must all act to ensure that the savings of the 22 million American workers who put their hard-earned money into 401(k) plans are safe. We need to make certain the government has the tools to assure American workers they can put their savings—and their trust— into a system that will be there when they need it most.

I urge you to swiftly approve legislation we sent to Congress in July that would give both private auditors and the government new strength and more effective tools with which to enforce the law and prevent abuse of employee retirement savings by unscrupulous employers.

My Administration has consistently urged Americans to save for their retirement—a message echoed by financial planners, consumer groups and virtually everyone who has considered this issue. But Americans need to know their savings are safe if they are to follow this sound advice.

While the vast majority of employers fully respect and protect their employees' savings, some employers are abusing that trust. Last week, the Department of Labor, which protects private pensions, urged consumers to watch for warning signs to protect their 401(k) investments. The Department of Labor's Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration has begun a nationwide enforcement initiative that has already uncovered the misuse of millions of dollars of contributions by workers. Over $3.5 million has already been returned to workers; 310 investigations remain open, and more cases are coming.

On July 6, Secretary of Labor Reich transmitted to Congress the "ERISA Enforcement Improvement Act." Our legislation would help in early identification of potential abuses, strengthen pension plan auditing and subject abusers to new penalties. Since July, we have worked with members of Congress and the financial community to develop a bipartisan consensus to protect our workers.

I am sure you agree with the 22 million Americans who place their faith and trust in 401(k) plans that this is an issue of protection, not partisanship.

I strongly urge you to give this important legislation your immediate attention, and urge that it be enacted before the end of the year. America's workers shouldn't be asked to wait a day longer.



NOTE: Identical letters were sent to Senators Robert Dole, Thomas Daschle, Paul Simon, Edward M. Kennedy, Nancy Kassebaum, and Representatives Newt Gingrich, Dick Gephardt, Patsy T. Mink, Harris W. Fawell, William F. Goodling, William Clay, and Matthew G. Martinez.

William J. Clinton, Letter to Congressional Leaders on Proposed Legislation To Protect Retirement Plan Savings Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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