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Obama paves way for more state retirement saving programs

President Obama speaks during the 2015 White House Conference on Aging in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., July 13, 2015.

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Speaking at the White House Conference of Aging, President Obama on Monday announced plans to help more states create retirement savings programs for workers.

"We've got to make it easier for people to save for retirement," Mr. Obama said, noting that about one third of Americans don't have access to a retirement plan at work.

A handful of states already have retirement savings programs, and more than 20 states are thinking about creating their own. In the absence of any congressional action on the matter, Mr. Obama announced that he's directing Labor Department Secretary Tom Perez to develop a set of rules to help states set up those programs.

"Tens of millions of more Americans could save for retirement," Mr. Obama said. "It's only fair... if you're working hard out there, even if you're not making goo-gobs of money,... you can still put away a little nest egg."

"I want to emphasize this point," he continued. "It's perverse that in this country, it is just easier to save if you've already got money. And I'm talking about not just the fact you've got money to save, I'm talking about the mechanics" of saving.

At the Conference on Aging, the White House marked the 50th anniversary of Medicare and the 80th anniversary of Social Security.

"One of the best measures of a country is how it treats its older citizens," Mr. Obama said. "By that measure, the United States has a lot to be proud of."