Our imperially inclined President is already acting on the promise he made during his State of the Union to take unilateral “action” outside of the normal legislative process. And at the top of his non-legislative agenda is the reformation of American retirement. Utilizing his oratory prowess and an executive memorandum, the President is promising to give Americans a new way of saving for retirement… Or something like that. Maybe “oratory prowess” was a bit of an overstatement. It turns out that his teleprompter was never taught about avoiding double negatives – let alone triple and quadruple negatives:
"Now, I'm hoping that Congress goes along with this, but I'm not going to wait for Congress. I could do more with Congress, but I'm not going to not do anything without Congress, not when it's about the basic security and dignity of American workers."
Well… Good. Now we’re all confused. It’s nice that we have a leader who can unite us. (What happened to his fantastic oratory skills? Was the teleprompter set on “stutter”?) He’s “not going to not do anything without Congress.” The point was still clear, despite the obfuscatory wording. Our all-powerful Campaigner-in-Chief will not wait for the legislative wheels of Constitutional government to be set in motion.
So what is he signing into non-law? Obama has directed his Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, to create a new savings bond called the “MyRA”. (Cute name. It rings of Orwellian double-speak given that the MyRA will be a government program.) With mildly more competent sentence structure than before, the President outlined his cure for America’s retirement woes:
“And we're calling it "MyRA." Not IRA -- MyRA.”
Thank you, Mr. President. I get it. You replaced the “I” in “IRA” with the word “My” to make me feel like I have ownership over the money I invest in this governmental financial instrument. Very clever.
“And what it is, it's a new type of savings bond that we can set up without legislation that encourages Americans to begin to build a nest egg.”
Wait! We’re creating a new savings bond!! And to think I was planning on not saving anything until I started collecting Social Security. Quick! Where do I sign up! (My kingdom for a sarcasm font.)
“Workers can contribute through automatic deductions…”
Am I supposed to be excited that the Treasury Department will allow me to “invest” with the same technological tools that allow me to subscribe to Netflix?
“MyRAs are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government.”
Oh, that makes me feel good. Anyone know if S&P is planning on downgrading the US again?
“[You] can keep the same account even if [you] change jobs.”
Oh good! So if you like your retirement, you can keep it.
“And it's affordable. You can open an account with as little as $25. You can contribute as little as $5 at a time.”
Because nothing helps build a comfortable retirement more than occasional $5 contributions to a government savings bond.
The Administration’s push to portray some gimmicky treasury bond as the solution to America’s retirement woes, only highlights the White House’s comically incompetent leadership on fiscal issues. The real problem, aside from Mr. Obama’s dependence on an apparently glitchy teleprompter, is far deeper than an insufficient choice of treasury bonds. Artificially low interest rates, declining household wealth, income stagnation, and an abysmal jobs market are far more painful to the retirement prospects of American workers than anything Treasury can singlehandedly address. The President’s adoption of extra-legislative gimmicks only serve to illustrate the leaderless incompetence of this White House.
It is becoming more apparent that the remainder of Obama’s tenure will be a hopeless mess of legislative gridlock, and executive politicking. The MyRA is nothing more than the first of many attempts to convince the American people that Obama will dictatorially go around Congress for “the greater good” of the nation. Or, as the President put it, he’s “not going to not do anything without Congress”.