President Joe Biden delivers remarks on his economic agenda on Wednesday in Cleveland. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo
July 6 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Wednesday praised a program under the American Rescue Plan for restoring pensions and providing a "dignified retirement" to union workers during a visit to Cleveland.
He touted his support for unions throughout his career and particularly during his 2020 run for the presidency. He praised unions for creating the middle class, which he called the "backbone" of the country.
"When unions do well, everybody does well," Biden said.
Biden gave an update on his administration's efforts to strengthen the economy and protect retirees from cuts to their pensions during a visit to Max S. High School. Upon his arrival, people gathered outside the school to protest last month's Supreme Court ruling overturning federal abortion protections.
Biden spoke about the Special Financial Assistance program, which will safeguard retirees who have faced cuts to their pensions due to investment losses. The program will allow them to receive the benefits they were originally supposed to see upon retirement.
"Unfortunately, this happens to people who need it most," he said. "These workers work hard today to secure retirement for tomorrow."
Biden said the Special Financial Assistance program will restore pensions to union workers retroactively.
"We turned a promise broken into a promise kept," he said. "With today's actions, millions of Americans will have the dignified retirement they earned and they deserve."
"The Special Financial Assistance program will protect millions of workers in multi-employer pension plans who faced significant cuts to their benefits," the White House said in a statement ahead of the visit.
Biden was joined in his appearance by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Democratic Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Shontel Brown.
President Biden's visit to Cleveland on Wednesday comes at a time of high inflation, which has been driven by higher gasoline prices. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
The president's visit in north Ohio comes amid high inflation and high gas prices, and gave Biden an opportunity to sell blue-collar workers on his economic agenda. Biden lost Ohio in 2020 and the battleground state is always considered to be important in presidential elections.
Two years ago, Biden lost to then-President Donald Trump in Ohio by about 500,000 votes. In 2016, Trump beat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by about 450,000 votes in Ohio. Former President Barack Obama, with Biden as his running mate, won the state both times he ran in 2008 and 2012.
The visit also comes amid high tensions in the Cleveland area related to a police-involved shooting that killed 25-year-old Jayland Walker, a Black motorist who was stopped by police. Demonstrators have protested in the streets since the June 27 shooting, when Walker was shot 60 times by Akron police officers who said they believed he was armed.
Akron is located about 30 miles southeast of downtown Cleveland.
Biden opened Wednesday's appearance by assuring that federal agencies, including the FBI, were working to provide assistance to local authorities investigating the Walker case. He said if evidences reveals federal violations, the Justice Department would take action.
President Joe Biden signs a condolence book in honor of deceased former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Embassy of Japan on Friday. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo