Steps Forward on Retirement Security – Emerging Consensus to Act

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by Leticia Miranda, Senior Policy Advisor, Economic Security Policy

There was big news in the retirement security arena this week.  After years of no action, both Congress and the White House are proposing new ways to provide a more secure retirement for millions of Americans.  In addition to Social Security, the main way Americans save for retirement is through workplace payroll deductions into retirement plans.  Half of all American workers—and two-thirds of Latinos—are employed by companies that do not offer any type of retirement plan.  These tend to be smaller private companies that cannot afford to manage a 401(k) plan.  Since most Latinos lack access to a workplace retirement plan, they depend more on Social Security as their sole source of income in retirement than any other racial or ethnic group, yet Social Security benefits are typically inadequate to cover all living expenses.  That is why Latinos have so much at stake when it comes to finding solutions to stop the growing retirement crisis.

This week, President Obama signed an executive order establishing a voluntary pilot program called MyRA, an individual retirement account (IRA) that first-time savers may use as a way to save for retirement.  That announcement was quickly followed by more promising news—Senator Collins (R–ME) and Senator Nelson (D–FL) worked across party lines to create the “Retirement Security Act of 2014” to make it easier and cheaper for companies to band together to offer retirement savings plans to their employees.  To close out the week, Senator Tom Harkin (D–IA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, introduced the “Universal, Secure, and Adaptable (USA) Retirement Funds Act of 2014,” legislation that would give 75 million workers the ability to earn a safe and secure pension benefit for the first time.

We are pleased to see our nation’s leaders offering solutions that can help generations of Americans have greater economic security in old age.  Although the MyRA plan put forward by President Obama is a good first step, his plan is limited because it is an executive order.  Congress must also act to pass legislation.  The bills by Senators Collins, Nelson, and Harkin address a key barrier in the system by making it easier for companies to band together to pool resources and risks and lower costs.

All of these proposals represent positive steps forward to ensure that 75 million American workers—including 16 million Latinos—who lack access to a workplace retirement plan are able to save for retirement in a safe and secure manner.  These proposals would also make our retirement system more inclusive by ensuring that workers who earn lower incomes and work for small companies are part of the new system.  As one of the fastest-growing segments of the workforce, Latinos will play an important role in the future of this nation.  We must ensure that we create a better framework that helps all workers save today in order to have a more secure retirement tomorrow.  Lastly, we must ensure that Social Security, the foundation of our retirement system, remains strong for future generations.

New Rules Will Make Money Transfers Abroad Safer

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Source: WIkipedia Commons (image linked to page)

Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will begin implementing a new rule that will make it safer and cheaper to send money to loved ones abroad.  Consumers wire billions of dollars to foreign countries every year, but remittance providers can sometimes tack unnecessary, exorbitant costs onto those money transfers.  In 2009 alone, immigrants from Mexico wired almost $23 billion in remittances and spent an estimated $1.5 billion in fees and other costs to perform these transactions.  With the adoption of these new provisions, consumers will finally have the information they need to make good decisions about remittance products and the confidence of knowing that a consumer watchdog is looking after their interests in this market.

The new provisions require that:

  • Financial institutions must provide full disclosure to consumers before accepting payment.
  • Disclosures must include the exchange rate, fees, and the amount of money to be delivered.
  • Proof of payment, along with the date the money will be received, must also be provided to the consumer.
  • Companies providing remittance transfers are responsible for any errors that occur.

NCLR applauds the CFPB for pushing new banking and financial reform efforts that directly help Latinos and other immigrants.  The remittance market is huge but historically has been loosely regulated.  Thankfully, the CFPB has worked collaboratively with groups like NCLR to ensure that our concerns are addressed.  These provisions will help consumers better understand up front what they are paying for, giving them the opportunity to shop for the best deal.  Having worked on this issue for years, NCLR is pleased to see this sensible outcome and will continue working with the CFPB to make sure these new rules work for everyone.

Ghostly Greetings

Halloween is fast approaching and we know what that means…costumes!  Forget the candy—the best part about Halloween is getting to dress up.  But we have to be careful with our costume ideas.  What should be a frivolous and fun holiday sometimes crosses the line into offensive territory.  There are countless stories about costume parties that took their themes too far, and many times, Latinos end up being the butt of unfunny and incorrect jokes.

So instead of going for a stereotypical costume that could land you in a hot cauldron, try out some ideas that will elevate our Latino heritage this year.

***All images used are linked to original source.***

CINEMA 

WEST SIDE STORY       Frida        Skyfall trailer pic 7

Latinos have made their presence known in cinema for years, so why not celebrate some of their most glamorous and exciting portrayals?  Look out for a fitted purple dress with ruffles and smolder as Anita from West Side Story, who was portrayed by award-winning actress Rita Moreno.  Or you can go as artist Frida Khalo, who was brought to life on the silver screen by Salma Hayek.  Meanwhile, guys can try a more macho and villainous look—think Bond’s latest bad guy, played by Javier Bardem, with that hideous blond wig and all.  Bonus points if you have a friend who will dress up as 007.

MUSIC

carlos santana         celia cruz         selena

Everyone loves a guy with a guitar.  Throw one over your shoulder, put on a fedora, and magically become Carlos Santana.  But when it comes to music, women get to go for the real glam here.  What better way to celebrate Latinas than to go over the top, Celia Cruz–style?  Besides her tremendous voice, the queen of salsa was known for her outrageous looks, so don’t shy away from the sequins, feathers, and sparkles.  And if you’re feeling more of a ’90s vibe, Selena is your go-to girl.

TELEVISION

Lucy and Ricky        Santana Glee         Ugly Betty

Make it a family affair and go as one of television’s most iconic comedy couples.  Ricky and Lucy have the distinct looks and eccentric personalities to keep your friends amused all night long (plus you get the added bonus of dressing up your little one as Ricky Ricardo, Jr.).  Teens can take their turn as Glee’s original bad girl, Santana, with an easy-to-find cheerleading outfit.  But if being a cheerleader isn’t your style, why not go as Ugly Betty?

LITERATURE AND FOLKTALES

la llorona          zorro        don quixote

Don’t forget that Halloween is supposed to be a scary holiday.  Straight from the folktales, La Llorona would make the perfect ghostly girl to spook unsuspecting trick-or-treaters.  Guys who prefer to run around in a cape can maintain an air of mystery as the masked Zorro.  But if fighting windmills matches your interests more, don your suit of armor and step out as Don Quixote.

CARTOONS

dora and diego         Puss n boots        cusco kronk yzma pacha

As much as we all love to dress up every year, Halloween is really about the kids.  No list would be complete without mentioning Dora and Diego.  But, thinking outside of the box, kiddies can have fun dressing up as the feline lothario Puss in Boots, who was voiced by actor Antonio Banderas.  And the cast of The Emperor’s New Groove would make the perfect group costume:  mom and dad can be Yzma and Kronk while the kids can be Cuzco.

SPORTS

De la Hoya         AJ Lee         Clemente

There is a treasure trove of Latinos in the sports world.  Put on your boxing gloves and step into the ring as decorated boxing champion Oscar De La Hoya, but a word of caution—a six-pack will be difficult to find at your local costume store.  From one ring to another, the world of professional wrestling, which has always blurred the line of sports and entertainment, has some interesting personalities to consider.  April Mendez, or AJ Lee as fans know her, certainly proves that women can pack just as much of a punch as any guy can.  If fighting isn’t up your alley, try going old school as baseball hall-of-famer Roberto Clemente.

The list goes on and on.  The point is that there are plenty of places to draw inspiration from that aren’t offensive.  So instead of resorting to stereotypical costumes this Halloween, be creative, be smart, and have fun celebrating your Latino heritage.

Weekly Washington Outlook – October 28, 2013

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What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

The House:

On Monday afternoon, the House will hold a series of votes under suspension of the rules on legislation relating to veterans services and benefits.  Later in the week, in addition to several non-controversial bills, the House will take up the Retail Investor Protection Act (H.R. 2374), sponsored by Congresswoman Ann Wagner.  The bill would delay a Department of Labor rulemaking process mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act that relates to fiduciary responsibilities for financial planners.  The House will also consider a measure on whether to suspend the debt limit and the Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act (H.R. 992), sponsored by Congressman Randy Hultgren.

The Senate:

On Monday, the Senate is expected to vote on cloture for Richard Griffin’s nomination to general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board.  Later in the week, Majority Leader Harry Reid may file cloture on the nominations of several judicial candidates to fill vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.  Action on the Mel Watt nomination to head the Federal Housing Finance Administration is also possible.

White House:

On Monday, the President will attend the installation of FBI Director James Comey at FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC.  On Tuesday, the President will attend a memorial service for former Speaker Tom Foley at the Capitol.  On Wednesday, the President will travel to Boston where he will host and deliver remarks the following day at the SelectUSA Investment Summit. In the evening, the President and the First Lady will welcome local children and children of military families to trick-or-treat at the South Portico of the White House.  On Friday, the President will host Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at the White House.  The visit will highlight the importance of the U.S.-Iraq relationship under the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA).  Continue reading

This Week in Immigration Reform – Week Ending October 25

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Week Ending October 25

This week in immigration reform: President Obama, joined by NCLR’s own Janet Murguía, calls on the House to get to work on passing immigration reform legislation; a bipartisan group of House lawmakers and immigration reform advocates discusses how reform would strengthen the U.S. military; reports indicate that Republican lawmakers plan to introduce immigration reform legislation; and the NCLR Action Fund announces that the Easton, Pennsylvania City Council is passing a resolution endorsing immigration reform.  NCLR staff kept the community informed as always this week, with staff quoted in stories in Univision and NBC Latino.

  • Pres. Obama, joined by Janet Murguía, calls for action on reform.  Joined by NCLR’s own Janet Murguía and other leaders in the broad coalition for immigration reform, President Obama took to the podium on Thursday, Oct. 24th and called on the House of Representatives to get back to work on immigration reform.

Murguía applauded the President’s call for reform and concurred with his remarks, saying that it continues to remain the House’s responsibility to work on passing immigration reform legislation – a commonsense policy initiative that will boost our economy, cut deficits, and that the majority of the public strongly supports.

  • Bipartisan House group calls for reform on military-readiness grounds.  A bipartisan group of House lawmakers and immigration advocates called on Congress to pass immigration reform on Oct. 23rd, arguing that our broken immigration system undermines military readiness, needlessly bars talented individuals from joining the armed forces, and harms military families that include undocumented individuals.

 Discussing how immigration reform would strengthen the U.S. military were Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ-9), Rep. David Valadao (R-CA-21), Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO-6), and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL-4).  The lawmakers were joined by Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Educational Fund, and Jorge Tellez, a Colorado DREAMer and aspiring service member.

  • House Republicans planning to introduce immigration reform legislation.  Politico reports that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA-49) plans to introduce immigration reform legislation as early as next week.  Issa described the legislation as a “come from the shadows bill” that would grant six years of legal status to undocumented individuals currently in the United States.  Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports that Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25) is working with fellow members of Congress on immigration reform legislation that will include border security and legalization provisions.
  • NCLR and Affiliates in action. 

Pennsylvania:  The NCLR Action Fund partnered with OFA (Organizing for America) and the SEIU (Service Employees International Union) this Tuesday, October 22nd to announce that the City Council of Easton, PA is adopting a resolution calling on Congress to pass immigration reform legislation.

immigration update 102513 photo 1Rafael Collazo with the NCLR Action Fund introducing the Easton City Council’s 10/22/13 resolution calling on Congress to pass immigration reform.

NCLR Affiliates:  To share your recent meetings on immigration with your members of Congress, please fill out the report-back form on our website.