George Orwell warned of the dangers of a tyrannical government that justified its rule in the name of the greater good in his classic novel 1984.
Those living under Big Brother’s rule were told what to think, how to act, and what was best for them.
I was reminded of this cautionary tale when I learned that President Obama’s budget would cap the amount of money people can save in their individual retirement accounts because the limit will allow “substantially more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving.”
According to whom?
The Constitution provides the Federal government with few specific powers, such as providing for the common defense, regulating commerce, and taxation, which we know all too well this time of year. Beyond that, the government should help create conditions where citizens can exercise the blessings of our liberty as we see fit.
The Constitution does not empower the government to make decisions for us that we should make for ourselves. But that’s exactly what the President wants to do. He’s made a bad decision in this case.
Our nation is facing a retirement crisis. More than a third of people age 55 and older are not saving for their retirement. Three-quarters have saved much less than they will need to retire comfortably. Most aren’t saving enough to maintain a lifestyle they are accustomed to in retirement.
We need to encourage people to take more responsibility for their future well-being instead of discouraging sound financial planning. We need to incentivize self-reliance instead of government dependence. People ought to be able to save as much as they want for their retirement through tax preferred accounts so they can determine their futures, not have that future determined for them by the all-knowing government planning bureau.
This budget proposal also suffers from the same fundamental flaw as the President’s health care law; it is based on the premise that people will put the interests of others ahead of their own. So it should be no surprise that employers are limiting the number of hours their employees can work or dropping health coverage altogether to avoid the insurance mandates and tax increases in ObamaCare.
Similarly, it would be expected that employers would respond accordingly to this proposal and modify or eliminate the retirement plans they offer, to the detriment of their employees.
The American people don’t need big government telling them what’s best for them and their families when it comes to their retirement, or anything else for that matter. We would be wise to reject the President’s vision of such a government and instead embrace the one so brilliantly put forward by our Founding Fathers. A good start would be to reject his savings cap.
(Rep. Messer is a member of the House Committee on the Budget.)