At the end of 2015, President Barack Obama introduced a new program, myRA, that allowed low income Americans who do not have an employer-backed retirement savings plan to access a safe, easy to use account. Senate Republicans just voted to eliminate the program.
Similar to a Roth IRA, funds withdrawn from a myRA will not be taxed. The account is backed by the Treasury and accrues interest.
All that Obama did was make it possible for states to create myRAs. States did not have to opt in to the program, and workers in states that do use the program do not have to open a myRA.
The myRA program was designed to give low income workers a choice for how they want to save for retirement. According to Senate Republicans, however, offering working class Americans a choice is ‘Big Government.’
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) even said, “The end result [of myRAs] would be more government at the expense of the private sector.”
Progressive icon Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) did not let Republicans get away with their perverse logic in attempt to further the war on the poor.
“[The years Republicans] haven’t put up for a vote … a single piece of original legislation to help working families.
“For years, the Republican-controlled Congress has done nothing to help the 55 million Americans who don’t have an employer-provided retirement plan.”
Fellow Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) emphasized the importance of allowing states help the poor:
“For too many working people, saving for retirement isn’t automatic or easy. It seems out of reach, but we can’t let that stand.”
The most absurd part of the Republican vote is that it eliminated choice and forced low income Americans to wrestle with a limited number of options to save for retirement. There is no excuse for eliminating a program that allows poor Americans to save their money more easily. MyRA isn’t ‘Big Government’ or a handout, it is common decency.