Trump signs order to increase access to retirement plans

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — President Donald Trump directed the Labor and Treasury departments Friday to work to make it easier for small businesses to band together to offer retirement plans to their workers.

Trump signed an executive order requiring that the departments issue regulations to remove regulatory hurdles that keep small businesses from coming together to form what are called association retirement plans. He said the cost of administering 401(k)s and other plans discourages small businesses from making them available.

“They’ll be banding together. They’ll have such strength,” Trump said. “They’ll be able to negotiate incredible deals.”

Most Americans use plans offered by their employers to save for retirement. But about one-third of all private-sector workers, and just under a quarter of all full-time workers in the private sector, lack access to workplace retirement plans, James Sherk, assistant to the president for domestic policy, told reporters Thursday.

The problem is more acute among businesses that employ fewer than 500 people.

About half of workers at these businesses don’t have access retirement plans, Sherk said. He referenced surveys in which more than one-third of small- and medium-sized business that don’t offer retirement plans cited high costs as the main reason.

Before he returns to Washington, Trump planned to stop at a Charlotte country club to help raise money for GOP congressional candidates Rep. Ted Budd and Mark Harris, as well as North Carolina’s Republican Party and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The NRCC says the event is expected to draw 300 people and raise $750,000.