State Retirement Plans (H.J. Res. 66)


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Republicans in Congress are ramming through fast-tracked legislation (H.J. Res. 66) that would block states like California, Oregon, Maryland, Illinois, and Connecticut from helping their citizens save money for retirement. The Department of Labor issued a legal ruling last year giving states the OK to provide a new savings option to workers who are not offered a 401(k) or other retirement plan at their job. Given how unprepared most Americans are for retirement, this made perfect sense -- workers should have more opportunities to save and retire with dignity, not fewer. But Republicans disagree -- in order to keep their Wall Street benefactors fat, happy, and shielded from competition, they are pushing legislation that would rescind the Labor Department regulation. The legislation has passed the House and will likely be considered in the Senate shortly.

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SAMPLE CALL DIALOG

Caller: Good morning/afternoon! Can you let me know the [Senator’s/Representative’s] position on H.J.Res. 66, the Congressional Review Act resolution that would rescind the Labor Department’s rule on state retirement plans?

OPTION 1: OPPOSES THE RESOLUTION [MEANING THEY SUPPORT THE STATE RETIREMENT PLANS]

Staffer: Thank you for calling! Senator/Representative Bob opposes the resolution.

Caller: That’s great! I’m calling to say that if [Senator/Representative] Bob truly believes, as I do, that there is a retirement savings crisis, then [he/she] should do everything [he/she] can to stop Congress and the Trump Administration from blocking state retirement plans. This means making public statements standing with the millions of Americans poised to benefit from these state programs and calling out the Wall Street special interests that are trying to shield themselves from competition.

I’m happy to hear the [Senator/Representative] opposes H.J.Res. 66. Will [he/she] commit to voting against this resolution if it comes up for a vote?

OPTION 2: SUPPORTS THE RESOLUTION [MEANING THEY OPPOSE THE STATE RETIREMENT PLANS]

Staffer: Thank you for calling! Senator/Representative Bob supports the resolution.

Caller: That’s terrible. What that means is [Senator/Representative] Bob is choosing to enrich Wall Street special interests over [his/her] hard-working constituents trying to save for retirement. States should have the right to help their OWN citizens save their OWN money for retirement. The alternative is more seniors living in poverty and relying on public assistance. There is a retirement crisis in America: nearly one-half of all private sector workers are not offered a retirement plan at work. We need to make sure that anyone who wants to save for his or her retirement can do so. These state programs would expand access to retirement plans so that the millions of hard-working Americans currently left behind can start saving. Why would [Senator/Representative] Bob want to block these state plans?

Staffer: But the Labor Department rule exempts state retirement plans from important consumer protections and would create an unworkable patchwork system, with each state having their own plan.

Caller: That’s wrong. The rule simply clarifies that employers who enroll their workers in the state’s retirement plan will not face any administrative or legal burden. The state itself is taking on those responsibilities since small business owners should be able to focus exclusively on running their business without sacrificing their workers’ retirement security. Each state has the right to set up its own plan if it so chooses. Would [Senator/Representative] Bob prefer that the federal government block states from making their own decisions, leaving millions of Americans left without a way to save for retirement?

OPTION 3: DODGES / HAS NO POSITION

Staffer: Thank you for calling! I don’t know about state retirement plans or H.J.Res. 66, but I’m happy to take down your concerns.

Caller: That’s disappointing to hear--this is a very important issue for millions of Americans, myself included. By trying to block state retirement plans, Congress is choosing to enrich Wall Street special interests over [Senator/Representative] Bob’s hard-working constituents trying to save for retirement. States should have the right to help their OWN citizens save their OWN money for retirement. The alternative is more seniors living in poverty and relying on public assistance. There is a retirement crisis in America. Did you know that nearly one-half of all private sector workers are not offered a retirement plan at work?

Staffer: I didn’t know that but I’m happy to take down your concerns.

Caller: Here’s my concern: We need to make sure that anyone who wants to save for his or her retirement can do so. These state programs would expand access to retirement plans so that the millions of hard-working Americans currently left behind can start saving. I expect [Senator/Representative] Bob will represent [his/her] constituents, like me, and not Wall Street. I expect [Senator/Representative] Bob to oppose H.J.Res. 66.

Will [Senator/Representative] Bob vote against this attempt to block state retirement plans?

Staffer: I will certainly pass on your concerns to the Senator/Representative.

Caller: Please do, and please take down my contact information to let me know when the [Senator/Representative] has made up his mind. I’m eager to hear what [he/she] decides.