During his January 2014 State of the Union address Obama announced the creation of a new financial product that would allow American workers, those without access to retirement accounts anyway, to directly participate in the U.S. Treasury’s debt ponzi on a tax-deferred basis. The accounts were cleverly named MyRA and were intended to be a substitute for people who didn’t have access to an employee-sponsored 401k…with one little catch…money deposited in the accounts could only be invested in U.S. government bonds. Here’s an excerpt from Obama’s speech at the time:
Let’s do more to help Americans save for retirement. Today, most workers don’t have a pension. A Social Security check often isn’t enough on its own. And while the stock market has doubled over the last five years, that doesn’t help folks who don’t have 401ks. That’s why, tomorrow, I will direct the Treasury to create a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings: MyRA. It’s a new savings bond that encourages folks to build a nest egg. MyRA guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in. And if this Congress wants to help, work with me to fix an upside-down tax code that gives big tax breaks to help the wealthy save, but does little to nothing for middle-class Americans. Offer every American access to an automatic IRA on the job, so they can save at work just like everyone in this chamber can…
To summarize, a MyRA was, more or less, an IRA without the investing flexibility as you could only invest in a massive government-sponsored ponzi scheme.
Shockingly, as the New York Times points out today, the accounts turned out to be a massive disaster costing taxpayers $70 million, or roughly 2x the amount of money that was invested in the 20,000 accounts that were actually opened and funded.
President Barack Obama ordered the creation of the so-called starter accounts three years ago, and they became available at the end of 2015. Since then, about 20,000 accounts have been opened, with participants contributing a total of $34 million, according to the Treasury; the median account balance was $500. An additional 10,000 accounts whose owners have not contributed to them have been opened.
Jovita Carranza, the United States treasurer, said in a statement that demand for the accounts was not high enough to justify the expense. The program has cost $70 million since 2014, according to the Treasury, and would cost $10 million a year in the future.
Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, this is yet another component of the ‘Obama legacy’ that taxpayers will no longer have to pour millions of their hard-earned cash into propping up as the Trump administration has just announced that the program was axed last Friday.
An Obama-era program that created savings accounts to help more people put away money for retirement is being shut down by the Treasury Department, which deemed the program too expensive.
The 30,000 participants in the program, known as myRA and intended for people who did not have access to workplace savings plans, were sent an email on Friday morning alerting them of the closing. Participants were informed that they could roll the money into a Roth individual retirement account, the Treasury Department said.
Really surprising that people didn’t want to open a really restrictive IRA substitute where proceeds could only be invested in a ponzi scheme…