WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Wednesday traveled to Ohio to highlight his administration’s work to prevent cuts to millions of workers’ pensions as his approval rating continues to sag ahead of the midterm elections.
Biden’s visit was tied to the launch of a program created under the American Rescue Plan that provides assistance to struggling multicompany pension plans, ensuring that as many as 3 million workers and retirees will receive their full benefits.
“With today’s actions, millions of workers will have the dignified retirement they earned and they deserve,” Biden said in Cleveland.
More than 200 multiemployer plans, which are created between employers and unions, were on track to become insolvent in the near term due to the economic impact of the pandemic, according to the White House. Those plans are now projected to remain solvent until 2051.
Seeking to repair his support among blue-collar voters, Biden said it was “important” to understand that Republicans opposed the American Rescue Plan. Much more could be in jeopardy if Republicans were to win majorities in the House and Senate this fall, including protections for pre-existing health conditions, he continued.
“When this bill was moving through Congress, Republicans called these pensions quote ‘rat holes,’” Biden said.
“My predecessor had a chance to act, but he didn’t have a commitment to you or the courage to stand up to his own party to get things done,” he said, referring to former President Donald Trump. “Remember how he was going to help working-class folks? But tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans — they had no trouble passing that.”
In a sign of Biden’s weakened standing among his own party, neither of Ohio’s Democratic nominees for its competitive U.S. Senate and governor races attended Wednesday’s events.
Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration remained in close touch with Rep. Tim Ryan, the party's nominee for Senate in Ohio, and former Dayton mayor Nan Whaley, the gubernatorial nominee.
The trip was Biden’s sixth visit to Ohio since he took office. He lost the state to Trump in 2020 by 8 percentage points.
Biden opened his remarks addressing the killing of Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old Black man who was shot dead by police in Akron, Ohio, in late June.
Biden said the Department of Justice and the FBI were closely monitoring the situation.
“If the evidence reveals the potential violations of the federal criminal statutes, the Justice Department will take the appropriate action,” Biden said.