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Workers, companies would feel pinch under plan to boost retirement savings

The systems in place to help Americans bank money for their golden years are failing half of the working population, said the co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center's task force aimed at boosting retirement savings.

But to make changes, the BPC's Commission on Retirement Security and Personal Savings is calling on companies and employees to make some sacrifices.

"We need to help the 50 percent of people who don't have retirement savings plans," co-chair James Lockhart told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Friday. "We [also] need to make Social Security sustainably solvent."

Lockhart served as deputy commissioner at the Social Security Administration during the presidency of George W. Bush.

Currently vice chairman of investment group WL Ross & Co., Lockhart is leading the BPC's retirement commission, along with Kent Conrad, former chairman of the Senate Budget and Finance committees.

The commission, which delivered its recommendations last month, proposed to "dramatically expand retirement plans at work" through what it calls Retirement Security Plans. Conrad, a Democrat from North Dakota, said the plans are "for employers with 500 or fewer employees."

Retirement Security Plans are described by the commission as a way to "allow small employers to transfer most responsibilities for operating a retirement savings plan to a third-party expert, while still maintaining strong employee protections."

"We're suggesting by 2020 that we actually make these plans for anybody who has 50 or more employees mandatory," said Lockhart, while acknowledging the greater burden on small businesses. "It's the only way we can get people to save."

On the Social Security side of the equation, barring reforms, retirees face a 23 percent reduction in benefits in 2035, according to current projections.

To help strengthen the rapidly dwindling Social Security finances, the retirement commission paneled by the BPC's Washington, D.C.–based think tank also proposed to raise the retirement age and increase the cap on taxable Social Security income.

Under the plan, the retirement age would gradually increase for 48 years until the full retirement age reaches 69, with the maximum benefit age reaching 72 in 2070. The current earliest age of 62 to claim Social Security with reduced benefits would not change.

Meanwhile, the current Social Security cap would be increased from $118,500 to $195,000 by 2020.

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