WATCH: Biden highlights pensions saved for millions during visit to Ohio




CLEVELAND, AP — Reassuring frustrated blue-collar voters, President Joe Biden visited ironworkers in Ohio on Wednesday to highlight federal action to shore up funding for struggling pensions for millions of people currently at home. working or retired – and to make a political case that he was a champion of workers early in his presidency.

Watch Biden’s remarks in the player above.

Biden’s speech at a Cleveland high school laid out a final rule tied to his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package from last year. The rule allows multi-company pensions in difficulty to be financially complete, guaranteeing full benefits to 2 to 3 million workers and pensioners.

Politically hurt by inflation at its highest in 40 years and the damage caused by the pandemic, the president chose to deliver his message in a state with a strong Republican leaning, Donald Trump easily carrying it twice. During his sixth visit as president, Biden sought to personally turn that election tide, touting the rule to help multi-company pensions as one of the most significant efforts to bolster union workers’ retirement funds in the country. over the past 50 years.

“A lot of politicians like to talk about how they’re going to do something about this,” Biden said. “Well, I’m here today to say we did something about it.

The approximately 200 assisted pension plans risked insolvency without government assistance. And without all the benefits, workers and retirees could struggle to afford housing, food and other essentials. The financial support is expected to maintain the solvency of pension funds for around 30 years until 2051.

This is important, said several retirees.

Bill DeVito, who introduced Biden, was an ironworker for nearly 50 years before retiring ten years ago. When his pension was cut by 40% in 2017, he said, “it was devastating”.

READ MORE: Biden’s approval plunges to presidential low, polls show

“The thing is, we’ve had a lot of politicians over the years who said, hey, we’ll try to help you, we’ll do whatever we can, and nobody’s ever done anything for us until ‘until Joe Biden happens,” DeVito, 73, said. He said other Democrats from Ohio to Washington were also continuing to push.

Jeffrey Carlson, 67, from the Cleveland suburb of North Ridgeville, said a year before retiring in 2017 he learned his pension would also be cut.

“I’m grateful for anything we could salvage,” he said. “I know I earned it. I worked hard.”

Multi-employer plans are created by agreements between companies and a union, and are insured by the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). In 2014, Congress passed the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act that allowed plans, for the first time, to cut benefits for workers and retirees to ensure pensions that are expected to run out of money remain solvent.

The U.S. bailout passed in March 2021 included a special financial relief program that allows struggling multiemployer pension plans to apply for help from the PBGC. The final rule unveiled by the Biden administration is designed to make it easier for pension investments to receive a higher rate of return.

The effort to highlight a program to help unionized workers comes as Democrats hope to land a U.S. Senate seat in Ohio, where a strong presence of working-class voters could play a pivotal role.

Republican Rob Portman leaves the Senate after two terms. Democratic Representative Tim Ryan and Republican JD Vance, the author of the “Hillbilly Elegy” memoir who won an endorsement in Trump’s primary, are vying to replace him. Ohio voters backed Trump in 2016 and 2020, with his margin of victory each time around 8 percentage points.

READ MORE: Biden faces hurdles as he seeks options to protect abortion access

In a sign of Biden’s standing in the state, Ryan did not appear with him at Wednesday’s event, but White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration was “in close contact with Congressman Tim Ryan in particular”. Biden in his speech noted Ryan’s absence and called him a “future” U.S. senator from Ohio.

A veteran Democratic lawmaker who participated, Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur, praised Biden for watching over American workers’ pensions.

“People say, ‘Marcy, why are you staying Home?’ That’s why,” Kaptur said. She added: ‘The former president – the Donald – did nothing.

As Biden boasts of steady job growth – unemployment sits at 3.6% – Americans are widely unhappy with the Democratic president’s handling of the economy as inflation continues to rise , interest rates rise and the stock market falters. Just 28% approve of Biden’s handling of the economy, down from 51% a year ago, according to an AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released last week.

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, who was present with Biden, gave his own speech the president delivered for American workers.

“I just want you to understand that this president we have right now…is the most pro-hardworking president in the history of America,” he said.

AP writer Julie Carr Smyth contributed from Columbus, Ohio.

Related Post