Speaking at the National Institute on Retirement Security in Washington Tuesday, Putnam President and Chief Executive Officer Robert L. Reynolds urged Congress and the Obama administration to strengthen all of America’s retirement savings systems, public and private.

Reynolds called for a bipartisan commission to make Social Security solvent and for Congress to extend workplace savings coverage to all American workers. Seventy-eight million Americans, roughly half the nation’s workforce, have no workplace savings plan available to them, he said. In addition, Reynolds supports more automatic features as well as lifetime income options, be they annuities or another variant, along with guidance.

Reynolds said strong tax incentives for workers who invest in insured lifetime income products would help the effort, as well as strong legal protection for employers who offer automatic enrollment, advice and lifetime income guarantee products.

The Putnam CEO said that if no action is taken soon, future generations of retires may have difficulty paying for food, housing and medicine. “Americans know we need to transition our country away from debt and leverage, moving toward a greater reliance on savings, investment and new business formation to reboot sustainable economic growth,” Reynolds said.

To succeed, political parties, financial industries and companies will have to form new alliances, he said. “We’re all in this together, Democrats and Republicans, wealthy, middle-class and lower-income. This is not something one party or industry can solve. This is an American challenge we need to meet.

“If we move this year, and finish the job in 2011, we can genuinely solve this issue,” Reynolds continued. “Future generations of working Americans could then feel more secure and more empowered in their work lives, more willing to change jobs, learn skills, start a business or pursue a dream. And we Americans could show the world, and ourselves, that we can control our destiny.”

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