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Obama Plan Could Ease Child, Elder Costs

WASHINGTON ( TheStreet) -- Less than a week after the Obama administration proposed taxing the nation's biggest banks, the White House has unveiled initial details of a comprehensive plan intended to help middle-class families.

Though a full report by the year-old Task Force on the Middle Class, chaired by Vice President Joe Biden, will not be released until February, an overview was made public on Monday, two days before President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. Here are key issues the group plans to address:

Retirement security: Reacting to the 78 million working Americans who lack employer-based retirement plans, the task force promotes the establishment of a system of automatic individual retirement accounts. The government would require employers who do not currently offer retirement plans to enroll their employees in a direct-deposit IRA unless the employee opts out. The contributions would be voluntary and matched by a Savers Tax Credit for eligible families. That credit would match 50% of the first $1,000 of contributions by families earning up to $65,000 and provide a partial credit to families earning up to $85,000.

The administration is pledging new scrutiny on fees and expenses on 401(k) plans, and a push for more "unbiased investment advice." The group would also promote annuities and other forms of guaranteed lifetime income, a move intended to reduce the risks of retirees outliving their savings or fail to maintain their living standards.

Target-date funds, portfolios that automatically become more conservative over time, would be subject to new reviews and required to clearly disclose risks of loss.
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