The Silent Treatment
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 3, 2016
For months, the Department of Labor has been working behind closed doors on a regulatory proposal that will make it harder for low- and middle-income families to save for retirement. And for months, bipartisan concerns regarding the department’s “fiduciary” proposal have fallen on deaf ears.
Most recently, nine House Democrats wrote to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)—where the rule is currently under review—about the proposal. As The Hill reported, the letter shows some Democrats “still harbor concerns about the effort.” Nearly 100 House Democrats raised these concerns in a September letter to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, writing:
[W]e continue to hear from constituents, academics, providers, and investors that there are specific provisions of the Rule that may cause market disruptions and limit the ability of segments of the market to reasonably access advice … it is vital that the proposal doesn’t limit consumer choice and access to advice, have a disproportionate impact on lower- or middle-income communities, or raise the costs of saving for retirement.
Senate Democrats have also sent letters to the department that “slammed President Obama’s proposal to regulate financial advisers.” Still, department officials have remained silent on what changes—if any—they’ve made to address these and other bipartisan concerns.
Due to the importance of this Rule to our economy, to workers and to retirees, as ranking member on the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee I respectfully request a private and secure viewing of the Rule that was submitted by the Department of Labor to OMB.
To make matters worse, a recent report from the Senate governmental affairs committee raises concerns with how the rule was developed, noting the department “frequently prioritized the expeditious completion of the rulemaking process at the expense of thoughtful deliberation.”
Rep. Roe has been leading this effort, and here is how he recently described the complementary, bipartisan bills:
These proposals will strengthen retirement planning by requiring financial advisors to look out for their clients’ best interests. They will enhance transparency and accountability with several clear, simple, and relevant disclosure requirements. And they will protect access to high-quality, affordable retirement advice for all workers, retirees, and small business owners.
As Congress advances positive solutions in an open and transparent way, what can working families and retirees expect from the department? If history is any indicator—the department won’t say.
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