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February 1, 2002
President Discusses Pension Reform
Excerpts from the 2002 "Congress of Tomorrow" Republican Retreat Luncheon
White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
...If you're corporate America, you're responsible for making sure you reveal all your assets and liabilities to your shareholders and your employees. (Applause.)
So part of the ushering in the responsibility era, not only from the individual basis but on the corporate basis, I have proposed some pension reforms I would like to outline briefly for you today, and ask you to take them up as quickly as possible.
We are announcing some proposals to protect pensions. My plan will strengthen the workers' ability to manage their own retirement funds by giving them more freedom to diversify, better access to professional investment advice, and quarterly information about their investments.
Employers should be encouraged to make generous contribution to workers' 401(k) plans. It's a positive development when employers give stock to people who work for them. About 42 million workers own 401(k) accounts with a total of $2 trillion in assets, and that's a critical part of retirement security for workers all across America.
But workers should also have the freedom to choose how to invest their retirement savings. And so the proposal I'll submit to Congress and work with members here in this room will allow workers to sell company contributed stock and diversify into other investment options after three years of participation in their company's plan.
To ensure that blackout periods are fair, the plan will ensure that company executives be bound by the same blackout restrictions they impose on their workers. (Applause.) If it's okay for the sailor, it ought to be okay for the captain. My plan also requires that workers be given a 30 day notice before any blackout period begins, so workers can plan to make changes in their investments. It's a matter of fairness, it's a matter of openness, it's a matter of respect for the process. And I look forward to working with you to get something done.
I also look forward to working with you to continue the progress we've made on a lot of issues. I think America appreciates it when people come to this body, or your respective bodies, and work hard for what's good for the country. We've made good progress doing that.
I am so proud of working with you. I'm proud to be able to call you a colleague here in Washington, D.C. It's been a remarkable experience for me. It's a joy to exchange ideas. It's been sometimes a joy to watch the legislative process. (Laughter.) Generally, it's an amazing experience to watch. (Laughter.) But I'm looking forward to working with you to make sure that the legislation that does come out is positive and hopeful for the American people.