- Congress released the text of its new government spending bill.
- It includes changes to Americans’ retirement savings, like raising the age of required withdrawal.
- But some advocates say these changes would benefit the wealthiest.
Americans might be able to retire with more money in their savings accounts — but it probably won’t help the people who need it most.
On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee released over 4,000 pages of text on its plans to allocate government spending for the upcoming fiscal year. It touched on a range of topics from TikTok to higher education to healthcare.
A significant element of the bipartisan government spending plan included changes to Americans’ retirement funds. Specifically, the bill would allow people to be able to save longer for retirement. By raising the age people are required to start taking out money from their retirement accounts to 75, workers can spend more years contributing pre-tax earnings.
It also allows an increased contribution in retirement savings for older workers and paves the way for automatic enrollment for workers starting in 2025. Employees with student debt will also get some assistance through this bill — it would allow them to receive matching contributions in their retirement plans by way of repaying their student loans.
But critics of the plan say that it still tilts the scale towards wealthier retirees — and allows them to accumulate more money untouched by taxes. For people who are already financially stable, the higher age might mean they can stow away more untaxed funds in their 401ks, or even “transfer more of those tax-subsidized funds to their heirs,” Chuck Marr and Samantha Jacoby of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities write.
Frank Clemente, the executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, told Insider that he’s “very disappointed in the retirement security provisions.”
“They’re getting retirement security to very wealthy people with the tax breaks in this legislation, but we’re not doing much to help the average working people and working families to save for retirement and we’re tired of it,” Clemente said .
That’s one reason that retirement provisions have provoked ire from some progressives, who argued that it could worsen racial wealth gaps. White Americans are far more likely to have retirement savings, and those savings dwarf those of Americans of color.
“Real retirement-savings reform would address the core problem: too many low- and middle-income workers with too little savings; too many high-income employees, and the rich, with too much savings that is heavily subsidized by taxpayers,” a letter organized by the left-leaning Americans for Tax Fairness and co-signed by 45 national organizations said.
These retirement changes are part of a $1.7 trillion legislative package to keep the government funded through the end of 2023, and Congress has until Friday to pass the bill and avert a government shutdown.
Some Democratic lawmakers acknowledged they did not get to include everything they had hoped for in this spending package, like increased funding to help Americans recover from the pandemic. Sen. Chris Van Hollen of the House appropriations committee told The Washington Post that despite the “painful cuts,” it’s still “a lot better than it would be” if the existing funding levels were only extended.