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The 2013 Pension 40: David (Phil) Roe

David (Phil) Roe
U.S. Representative

“I have a real commitment to solve this problem in a bipartisan way,” says Republican Representative David (Phil) Roe of retirement income security. The third-term Tennessee lawmaker sits on the Committee on Education and the Workforce, where Democrats and Republicans are putting their heads together to tackle the funding crisis at several large multiemployer pension plans where temporary solutions are set to expire next year. With the U.S. multiemployer system underfunded by about $27 billion, the committee has been holding hearings with leaders from that world to explore options such as redesigning or restructuring plans. As a physician with his own practice and as the mayor of Johnson City, Tennessee, Roe, 68, oversaw the conversion of employees’ defined benefit pensions to defined contribution plans to cut costs. But he says he’s “wide open” to new plan designs that would include key elements of traditional pensions, such as risk-sharing between employees and employers. And he has an idea of his own: that each of the 4 million babies born in the U.S. each year start life with an individual retirement account. “It’s a way to help solve the long-term problem,” he says. “Sixty-five years from now, there’s going to be a president who will be happy we did this.”

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