Washington, DC - "President Obama has once again proved that his pen is mightier than Congress. He signed a memorandum and, voila, the myRA was born," according to Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens.
Perhaps, Weber speculated, Mr. Obama used his presidential powers rather than asking Congress to pass a law "because the new regulation might have come under too much scrutiny by those who are actually responsible for making laws."
Weber said that the myRA is supposed to give workers a new option for supplementing their Social Security investments, but, "in fact, it is what Christine Benz, director of personal finance at the highly-regarded Morningstar investment research firm, calls 'an IRA with training wheels'."
The president's myRA is "an exceptionally limited option" because it does not allow potential users a choice of investments. It only allows individuals to put retirement funds aside in Federal bonds paying at a current interest rate of 1.5% at a time when the present rate of inflation is 1.7%."
Jamie Hopkins, who covers investment income planning for Forbes, said that "the maximum account balance rules and limited low return investment options place significant limitations on the myRA, potentially limiting its overall impact."
But there's another flaw, said Weber. "Hidden inside the Treasury's new myRA regulation is a very dangerous section (think Obamacare death panels), Section 347.5, which permits a designee of the Secretary to 'waive or modify any provision' of the regulation subject to certain vague clauses. So not only do we have what could arguably be considered a new law, we have a law that can be completely waived or changed on a whim."
The AMAC chief noted that he thinks the idea of allowing workers to invest their own money in a new kind of retirement account to supplement their Social Security accounts is a good idea. "But it needs to be broader and more generous for those who want to invest for retirement."
Weber said that his association has put forth what he calls an Early Retirement Account that would allow the basic benefits of Social Security to remain the same but would also allow individuals to make investments in their own private investment accounts, or ERA's.
"To ensure that the funds in the Early Retirement Account will not be lost through investment with extreme risk, half of the moneys in individual ERA accounts would have to be invested in guaranteed interest products such as government bonds or annuity contracts. The worker would be free to invest the balance in any other investment that meets certain suitability standards."
Weber pointed out that workers opting for the supplemental ERA would earn a substantial amount of extra income when they retire, in addition to their regular earned Social Security benefits. "For example a 25-year-old who contributes only $15 a week to an IRA would get $165,407 in additional income by retirement. Increase the amount to $45 a week and the windfall would be $352,389 upon retirement."