Mango Madhani and Josh Bok, by the Associated Press
CLEVELAND (AP) – Reassuring frustrated blue-collar voters, President Joe Biden visited Iron Ore workers in Ohio on Wednesday to raise federal concerns about raising troubled pension funds for millions of people now employed or retired – and to sue him. There was one. Champion for staff at the White House.
Biden’s lecture at Cleveland High School demonstrated a final rule tied to his $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package from last year. The rule ensures full benefits for 2 million to 3 million workers and retirees, allowing troubled multi-company pensions to be completed financially.
Politically damaged by inflation and the damage caused by the epidemic at a 40-year high, the president chose to deliver his message in a state that is heavily Republican-leaning, with Donald Trump easily carrying it twice. On his sixth visit as president, Biden personally sought to reverse that electoral tide, claiming the rule to support multi-company pensions as one of the most significant efforts to support union workers’ retirement funds over the past 50 years.
“A lot of politicians like to talk about how they’re going to do something about it,” Biden said. “Okay, I came here today to say we did something about it.”
“We’re breaking a promise, keeping a promise.”
About 200 aided pension schemes have faced potential bankruptcy without government assistance. And without full benefits, workers and retirees may struggle to pay for housing, food and other necessities. Financial assistance will help keep pension funds salvaged for about 30 years until 2051.
This is important, several retirees say.
Bill Divito, who introduced Biden, said it was “devastating” when his pension was cut by 40 percent in 2017 after spending his life as an iron worker.
“The thing is, a lot of our politicians have said over the years, hey, we’ll try to help you, we’ll do what we can, and nobody did anything for us until Joe Biden came.” DeVito said the 63-year-old. He said other Ohio Democrats in Washington are also under pressure.
Jeffrey Carlson, 67, of the Cleveland suburb of North Rizville, said that a year before he retired in 2017, he had learned that his pension would also be cut.
“I’m grateful for anything we can get back,” he said. “I know I achieved it. I worked hard.”
Many employer plans are made by agreement between the company and a union and are insured by the Federal Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC). In 2014, Congress passed the Multi-Officer Pension Reform Act, which for the first time allowed plans to reduce benefits for workers and retirees so that pensions that were supposed to run out of money would be salvaged.
The American Rescue Plan, passed in March 2021, includes a special financial assistance program that allows struggling multi-officer pension plans to apply to the PBGC for assistance. The final rule unveiled by the Biden administration is designed to make it easier to get a higher rate of return on pension investments.
The effort to highlight a program to help union workers comes as Democrats hope to pick a seat in the U.S. Senate in Ohio, where a strong show with working-class voters could play a key role.
Republican Rob Portman is leaving the Senate after two terms. He will be replaced by Democratic Republican Tim Ryan and Republican JD Vance, author of the memoir “Hillbilly Elegie,” which received approval from Trump during the primary. Ohio voters backed Trump in 2016 and 2020, each time by about 8 percentage points on his winning margin.
As a sign of Biden’s position in the state, Ryan did not appear with him at Wednesday’s ceremony, but White House Press Secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said the administration was “particularly in close contact with Congressman Tim Ryan.” Biden mentioned Ryan’s absence in his speech and referred to him as the “future” U.S. senator from Ohio.
A veteran Democratic lawmaker who was present, Marcy Kaptur, a representative from Ohio, praised Biden for seeking pensions for American workers.
“People say, ‘Mercy, why are you at home?’ That is why, ”said Kaptur. He added, “The former president – Donald – did nothing.”
Biden also sharply criticized “Trumpers” in Congress, as well as his predecessor, for backing the former president’s agenda. He blames them for thwarting efforts to reduce prescription drug prices and tackle rising inflation, and attacks them for proposing to Congress to re-approve Medicare and Social Security and raise taxes on some low-income Americans.
Looking at the mid-November term, Biden said, “So the election is over.” That is why they are important. And that’s why what we’re doing here is so important. “
Although Biden boasts steady job growth – unemployment sits at 3.6% – Americans are largely dissatisfied with the way the Democratic president manages the economy as inflation continues to rise, interest rates rise and the stock market plummets. According to an AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs research poll released last week, only 28 percent of economists approve of Biden’s stewardship, down from 51 percent a year ago.
Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, who was present with Biden, created his own pitch that the president provided for American workers.
“I just want you to understand that this, our president at the moment … he is the most pro-activist president in American history,” he declared.
Biden closed his remarks by appealing to Labor voters to help send him to the White House.
“There is no other place I want to be here with the workers in this house and the workers made in America,” Biden said. “I can see you.” I listen to you and I will always be behind you. “
Josh Bok reports from Washington; AP Reporter Julie Carr Smith contributed from Columbus, Ohio.
Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.