Target: Fox & Friends First co-host Patti Ann Browne
Goal: Retract false claims about voluntary retirement savings program for California workers
On a recent episode of Fox News’ Fox & Friends First, co-host Patti Ann Browne falsely claimed that California workers would be forced to participate in the recently proposed program known as the Secure Choice Retirement Savings Plan. Browne’s criticisms completely ignore the fact that the proposal allows workers to opt out of the program at any time. Further, the program is only open to workers who are not offered a retirement plan from their employers.
Browne called California a “nanny state,” stating that the proposal would “force private sector workers to lose 3 percent from each paycheck,” which would be deposited in a state fund and then become available to workers at retirement with added interest earnings.
Despite Browne’s claims, no one will be forced to contribute to California’s proposed program. Ben Harris, a former senior economist with the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, wrote that the proposed program is “entirely voluntary.” Absent from Browne and Fox’s discourse on the issue is Harris’ point that the program’s use of automatic enrollment — which workers can opt out of — has the potential to “bring more than 6 million workers into the retirement saving universe.”
While Fox tried to defame the proposal, the plan likely won’t pose any costs to the state of California, as it is designed to run privately. Most of the workers who will be eligible for the program make less than $46,420 a year and rely heavily on social security in retirement, and this program will give them added security.
Browne’s commentary intentionally misleads viewers as to the nature of California’s proposed program, which would be hugely beneficial to many low-earning workers in the state. Tell Fox News to stop perpetuating lies about the program and to issue a retraction for its false claims that the program would be mandatory.
Dear Patti Ann Browne,
Your recent statements on Fox & Friends First were blatantly misleading and incorrect. While you warned viewers that the Secure Choice Retirement Savings Plan would force California workers to give up a percentage of their paycheck for a state fund that would become available after retirement, this is not the case at all.
In reality, the program is only available for workers whose employers don’t already sponsor a pension plan or a 401(k) for their retirement. This plan would allow these workers to pay into an account that would pay benefits based on account contributions and investment returns. Further, any workers who don’t want to participate in the program have the ability to opt out.
This program could prove to be very beneficial to the state of California, but your statements intentionally mislead viewers into thinking it will force workers to participate. The public deserves to hear the truth about proposed legislation and not be manipulated by the media. I urge you to apologize for your incorrect statements, issue a retraction, and no longer perpetuate myths about the Secure Choice Retirement Savings Plan.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Rae Whitlock via Wikimedia Commons