2020 US Election: Inside the Candidates’ Retirement-Savings Policies

There have been plenty of headlines exploring what the November US elections might mean for the economy and markets. But it’s just as important to look at what they might have in store for defined contribution (DC) and other retirement vehicles, which more Americans than ever rely on.

Besides Social Security, DC plans are the foremost retirement vehicles for most Americans. So, it makes sense to understand where the presidential candidates stand on the issues relevant to these and other retirement-savings policies. Both Donald Trump and Joe Biden have pledged to shore up retirement-savings incentives and protect retired seniors, and that’s a good thing. But the similarities end there.

Busy Years for the Department of Labor

During the first three years of the Trump administration, the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) focused mostly on healthcare offerings, not retirement planning. But it shifted gears last June, resulting in a busy summer of retirement rulings.

From fiduciary responsibilities and pooled employer plans to implementing ESG and lifetime income disclosures, a bevy of proposals rippled across the plan pond—and this was on top of EBSA’s already jam-packed agenda to implement key provisions of 2019’s SECURE Act.

Most of the organizations responsible for implementing new DOL regulations have signaled they’ll hold off until well after the election results are determined—although there’s considerable interest in codifying new ESG implementation measures more quickly. A Trump win would likely allow most or all of them to move forward; if Biden wins, he’ll likely have a different view on some of the changes.