Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Hillary Clinton's federally subsidized retirement plan represents one more way to make Americans ever more dependent upon the government for their livelihood.

Her proposal is yet another quintessential Democratic idea to strap the country's workers to the apron strings of Big Brother, promising them a refundable tax-credit check of up to $1,000 if they sign on the dotted line for Clinton's campaign savings plan.

In return, they will be expected to show their gratitude for Clinton and the Democrats at re-election time. The program would no doubt be fine-tuned for years to come with other add-ons to milk the political payoff for all its worth. The money that she promises workers who are without pension plans of their own will come from the U.S. Treasury, courtesy of hardworking, overtaxed Americans.

No doubt the people who would sign up for her American Retirement Accounts are hard workers, too, but Hillary is asking taxpayers who scrimp and save on their own to contribute to the others who don't, and that troubles some analysts.

"This is a dependency-creating plan. Savings are supposed to make you independent. This one ties you to the government," says Bill Beach, a retirement-policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation.

The lure of a refundable federal tax credit from general revenues is a government subsidy, pure and simple. The worker who receives it doesn't have to work for that matching money in order to save it. "You have to work for that money in order to turn it over to someone else to save it," Beach said.

"It makes people more dependent on the federal budget now for their savings, in addition to all the other things that lower-income people might be dependent on," he said.

Precisely.

To be sure, the nation's retirement picture that the Clinton campaign outlined last week in Webster City, Iowa, where she unveiled her plan, is one of this country's biggest problems.

More than 75 million workers have no employer-sponsored pension, include 77 percent of small-business employees and 77 percent of part-time workers. These Americans do not have access to automatic, direct-deposit, retirement-savings plans because they work for small businesses that cannot afford costly, tax-deferred 401(k) plans that offer their workers matching private-employer contributions.

Nearly one-third of all households in the country do not have enough savings, including their Social Security, to replace half their income when they retire.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.