Dr. Teresa Ghilarducci on Abolishing 401k Plans [audio]

This is a great segment from the Mark Levin show the other day because it very clearly outlines what type of thinking you get when someone doesn’t understand that the United States Constitution was set up to limit the powers of government – rather than grant powers to citizens. If you get a chance – listen to the following audio:

The remarkable aspect of the U.S Constitution and Bill of Rights is that they first acknowledge that rights and power lie intrinsically in individual citizens – then the documents go about protecting those rights by creating limits and restrictions on government. Not the other way around.
[ht: Levin]

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9 Responses to “Dr. Teresa Ghilarducci on Abolishing 401k Plans [audio]”

  1. coops2001 Says:

    I reviewed the proposal, which Rep. George Miller finds intriguing. My points of contention with the Miller / Ghilarducci proposal are as follows:

    – A Miller / Ghilarducci proposal would have a return of 3%. The long term return on the S&P 500 from 1950 to 2007 was 11.8%. The returns from the proposed plan are obviously inferior. A knee jerk reaction to recent cyclical movements in the equities markets is a call to panic and not to reason. Most market experts warn against investment decisions based on panic, which this one clearly is.

    – The Miller / Ghilarducci proposal would mandate 5% savings. But a worker making $50,000 to $100,000 a year can today save up to a 15,500, versus $5,000 under the Ghilarducci plan. This would have a disastrous effect of those nearing retirement who desperately need to step up their savings. Also, the Miller / Ghilarducci assumes $5,000 a year is enough to fund retirement for the average American. As the cost of living in the tri-state area is higher than average, this proposal would penalize those living in higher income states, such as New Jersey, New York, and California.

    – ALL current contributions to a 401K plan, once vested, goes to the participant or their family. Under the Miller / Ghilarducci proposal, when the participant dies, the family only gets half of the contribution. This is not only unfair, but financial disruptive to the surviving family, especially in the later years of their lives.

    – Ghilarducci claims that the government could run retirement plans more cost efficiently. I am very surprised to hear that. The cost of the Vanguard SP500 fund is 19 basis points (0.19%). How will the government beat that? With all due respect, when is the US Government ever more efficient than US businesses in a highly competitive market?

    – No offense, but I do not want the US Government managing my retirement. This is from the same management that brought us a Social Security plan that is targeted to go bankrupt by 2041, a FannieMae FredieMac program that will cost the US taxpayers at least $200 billion, the $13 billion bailout of Amtrack and other wonderful programs too numerous to mention. If Miller / Ghilarducci want a government mandated plan, there is already one in place. It’s called Social Security, the largest retirement plan in the world. Creating a second government plan will not fix the problems with the first plan.

    – Ghilarducci claims that the 401K plans are unfair. I do not agree. Individuals that are not part of a 401K plan can contribute tax differed income to IRA plans if they chose. Also, 401K plans are capped at $15,500 for 2008, so an employee making more money can not possibly contribute more than the lower level employee in the same 401K plan. This seems fair to me.

    – Ghilarducci claims that the tax savings on the current 401K plan is regressive. What Ghilarducci fails to take into account is that the US Tax plan is progressive, which causes regressive savings. So the savings is merely a by product of the US Tax code. Please also remember that only 41% of American’s pay taxes. So the Miller / Ghilarducci proposal requires the middle class to shoulder even more of our nation’s economic burden.

    – Each year, more families fall into the Alternative Minimum Tax status. Under this, middle class families can not deduct property taxes, state taxes, and local taxes from their federal taxes. The 401K savings is one of the few deductions that the middle class family paying taxes under AMT have. Lower income families have the ability to deduct these state and local taxes. So the Miller / Ghilarducci proposal causes further tax penalties on the middle class. The combined Obama/Bidden tax plan, AMT, and Miller / Ghilarducci would create a perfect storm four our middle class.

    – By moving retirement funds away from the capital markets, the Miller / Ghilarducci proposal could cause a decline in the equity and bond markets and reduce the amount of available funds for capital expansion and development. My estimates are that this would be about $300-$400 Billion a year that would be pulled from our capital markets. The Miller / Ghilarducci proposal does not consider those impacts on our markets and our economy.

    – An unintended consequence of the Miller / Ghilarducci proposal would be the negative impact on small businesses. By mandating that ALL companies pay in $2,500 per employee, small businesses would see their costs rise. If you couple that with the Obama / Bidden proposal to increase taxes on small businesses and mandate the payment of health benefits, this could create a perfect storm for small businesses. The direness of this is greater in our current economic environment, where we need small businesses to lead us into a recovery, which they have historically done. The Miller / Ghilarducci proposal could prevent that from happening and prolong our recession.

    – Applying the Miller/Ghilarducci’s proposal to the current 401K planning model pushes the estimated retirement of a middle class worker back at least 3-5 years, if not more.

  2. Dr. Teresa Ghilarducci & The Nationalization of 401k’s « A Political Dookie Says:

    [...] Ghilarducci and he thoughts on how 401k plans should be modified. See Mark Levin deconstruct here here. Get it straight from the horse’s mouth [...]

  3. Billy the J Says:

    unfortunatley, the interviewer is a complete jerk

  4. MacsForever Says:

    Your argument is wonderfully on-target. Teresa Ghilarducci’s completely totalitarian wealth-grab is obscene. She should be shunned by all freedom-loving Americans. This plan is a DRAMATIC and BREATHTAKING nationalization of personal assets.

    I love how our Government creates a tax code that promotes saving through tax incentive, then finds a wiling, book-smart but life-stupid academic to come up with the “switch” in this “bait and switch.” In any locale in America, law enforcement would be looking into this little scenario as a con, and Miller and Ghilarducci as grifters.

    Let’s proceed that way, and show them out of town.

  5. levinFan Says:

    i love mark levin for this interview, you know, “cuz he’s not that smart!” how this woman became a professor to pervert young minds is shocking

  6. tjo2151 Says:

    Haha to pervert young minds…I am studying with her at the New School and she is a brilliant professor. She is able to separate ideology from economics, an ability that seems lacking in this discussion.

    Mr. Levine is a manipulative and condescending interviewer, I am surprised that she was able to keep her cool. He keeps acting as if her expertize in economics is a negative thing. He seems to suggest academia is by definition liberal? I hope not, but it is looking so. Besides, Mr. Levin was agreeing with many of her points and when she said that the 401k was a good base he took that to mean she was going to abolish the plan in its entirety? He seemed to understand the idea but chose to attack it because supposedly Teresa is wealthy (a college professor is somehow a rich elite?) and backs Obama. Well, Obama won so while the right-wingers try to argue that they are the true protectors of America it has been resoundingly shown that they are far from aligned with the majority of Americans.

    If people can stop fearing the big, bad government we can consider smart proposals like Dr. Ghilarducci’s. Perhaps it isn’t the right one to move forward with, but it SHOULD be considered and–potentially rejected–from an academic perspective using thought, reason and educated debate.

    • EE Professor Says:

      I looked at the New School’s economics program. No mathematics required… you have got to be kidding me.

  7. Richard Sexson Says:

    This lady is the Nutty Professor times ten.


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