The good news: Where the federal government has failed, state governments have stepped into the breach. For many years now, roughly one half of U.S. workers have lacked access to a 401(k) plan, because their employers (usually smaller companies) have opted against offering one. Several states, growing tired of waiting for Washington to address the problem, have come up with their own solutions.
These new programs are called "State IRAs." Their name reflects their heritage; they are an adapted version of the familiar individual IRA plan, launched in the 1980s during the Reagan administration. State IRAs take existing IRA structures--tax benefits, contribution limits, and so forth--and adapt them to become workplace savings vehicles.