Income in retirement is becoming an issue politicians on both sides of the house can’t afford to ignore, according to a survey by Lake Research Partners and Public Opinion Strategies that was commissioned by Americans for Secure Retirement (ASR), a broad-based coalition of more than 70 organizations committed to raising awareness of issues related to retirement security.
“Voters think that incumbents of both parties out of touch with [voters’] financial situations, and don’t understand what it’s like and how deep the anxiety is,’” says Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners, a Democrat research firm.
With less than two months to go until the mid-term elections, both parties should start taking note. According to the survey, 73% of voters expressed concern about “being able to maintain a comfortable standard of living throughout retirement,” with 49% of those individuals indicating they are “very concerned.”
Some 62% of voters believe that “creating more retirement options that help retirees make sure their savings last throughout their lifetime” should be the top or one of the top priorities of Congress, and 45% of voters say a candidate’s commitment to addressing their retirement concerns will be a highly important factor in how they will vote.
Rob Autry, a partner at Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican research firm, adds that mid-term elections typically get older voters than presidential elections. “Given this will be an older electorate, and the importance of economic and long-term retirement issues to this group, we have every reason to believe this will be a crucial issue for voters,” he says.
Shannon Hunt, executive director of Americans for Secure Retirement, points to two bills in the Senate and House, support for which could make a difference in the upcoming elections. In the Senate, S. 1297 Retirement Security for Life Act of 2009, and in the House, H.R. 2748 Retirement Security Needs Lifetime Pay Act of 2009, both aim to change tax laws to exclude some annuity payouts from normal income, considered a first step in a process encouraging Americans to plan for the future, to invest a portion of their personal savings in lifetime annuities, “the only way to guarantee income in retirement,” Hunt says. She also applauded initiatives announced by the Obama administration earlier this year surrounding annuitized retirement income and “wants to flesh ideas out further.” ASR considered additional savings to eventually create an annuitized retirement income stream the third leg of a stool, along with retirement plans through work and Social Security payments.