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Saturday, April 13, 2013

The White House pulls a switcheroo on retirement savings accounts

Be careful how much you save.

Mr. Obama proposes to "limit an individual's total balance across tax-preferred accounts to an amount sufficient to finance an annuity of not more than $205,000 per year in retirement, or about $3 million for someone retiring in 2013."*

The feds may think $3 million is all you need after a lifetime of work, but that's roughly the value of a California police sergeant's pension if she works for 30 years, retires at age 50 and lives to normal life expectancy.
Out in the private economy, people generally have to work longer than that before they retire, and some of them do manage to save significant amounts. We're talking about people who work for decades and abstain from buying the bigger house or the new car so they can contribute the maximum to their 401(k)s or IRAs. The people who defer gratification and build a nest egg to avoid becoming a burden on their kids or their fellow taxpayers. The people whose savings finance productive enterprise. You know, the bad guys.

*That seems to be assuming a risk-free 7% annually, unless you're spending down the principal, which you can't do because you don't know how long you'll live.  Where do you find a low risk 7% return indefinitely?

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