WASHINGTON – In an op-ed to be published in
the January 31, 2014 editions of McClatchy Newspapers, Treasury Secretary Jacob
J. Lew discusses myRA - a simple, safe and affordable starter
savings account to help low and moderate-income Americans begin building
towards a more secure financial future.
Read the piece online.
The text of the piece follows:
myRA: A start to a secure retirement
Over the past five years, our country has accomplished a
number of big things. The economy has grown stronger after being shaken
to the core by the worst recession in our lifetimes. Our businesses have
created more than 8 million jobs. The financial system is more resilient,
with better protections for consumers and investors. And investments in
domestic energy production have helped put the promise of American energy
independence in sight.
In the meantime, health care costs have grown at their
slowest rates in years while millions of families now have access to affordable
health care coverage so they are not one hospital visit away from falling into
financial ruin. Our auto industry is surging even as home values are
rebounding. And the federal deficit has been cut by more than half.
So we have made clear progress. But we all understand
that we are not where we want to be yet. Too many Americans cannot find a
job. Too many Americans who do have a job are not getting paid enough to
support their families and make ends meet. And too many Americans do not
have the skills they need to succeed in today’s economy.
As President Barack Obama made clear in his State of the
Union address, it is time to focus on restoring opportunity for all. That
means helping to make sure more Americans can take part in our growing economy
and build some economic security for the long term. To get that done, we
are putting forward real, concrete solutions to our most pressing problems—from
college affordability and job training to fair wages and a stable
Now, when it comes to retirement, you would think that the
vast majority of working Americans would be putting some money away for their
future. But the truth is, many are not. For millions of working men
and women, it is not easy to save for the long haul. Many employers do
not offer a retirement plan. And setting up a retirement account and
maintaining it can often be too difficult, expensive and time-consuming.
The statistics paint a stark picture. Only about half
of all workers have access to an employer-based retirement plan, such as a
401(k). And left on their own, few workers save. It is estimated
that fewer than one out of 10 eligible workers actually contribute to an IRA.
Still, every American deserves the chance to build a secure
retirement. That is why the Obama administration has designed a new way
for working Americans to start saving for the future. This program, which
will begin later this year, is called myRA or My Retirement
This account is designed to help low- and middle-income
workers, who are too often overlooked or ignored, begin saving for
retirement. We are talking about the waitress who is holding down two
part-time jobs to support her kids; the recent graduate who landed a job but is
grappling with student loans; the janitor who has never been given the chance
to invest in a retirement account.
Here is how myRA, which is simple, safe and
affordable, will work.
You will be able to start saving with an initial deposit of
as little as $25 and contribute as little as $5 each payday. If an
employer chooses to participate, contributions are made through automatic
payroll deductions, making them hassle-free.
There are no fees—100% of any contribution goes into the
account and is invested in a Treasury security. That means it will be
backed by the full faith and credit of the United States, will earn the same
interest rate that is available to federal employees for their retirement
savings, and the balance will never go down.
Finally, myRA is not tied to any one employer—it
belongs to the worker, not the workplace. In other words, the account is
portable and can be easily rolled into a Roth IRA. And if myRA
savers ever need to, they can withdraw their contributions tax-free, at any
MyRA is a specific way in which we can help
hardworking Americans save for the future. But there are other things we
can do. In particular, the President has consistently called on Congress
to help tens of millions of middle class Americans save for the future by
opening up access to automatic IRAs in the workplace.
And we will continue to look for ways to help increase
economic security, strengthen the middle class, and provide more ladders of
opportunity into the middle class. That is how we will help make sure
every American can take part in this recovery. And that is how we will
help usher in a stronger, more prosperous future for our country.
Jacob J. Lew is the secretary
of the Treasury.