WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden Thursday touted a $36 billion pension plan bailout paid for by his American Rescue Plan that will prevent drastic cuts to some 350,000 truck drivers’ retirement incomes.
“You have a good job, you’re retiring, about to retire, and you find out your pension plan is going to be cut 60%. Imagine what that does. Imagine what that does to you,” Biden said in brief remarks in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
“That’s not going to happen. The cuts are not going to occur,” he said.
The approval of the money for the Central States Pension Fund, among several hundred multi-employer plans that face financial troubles, has been expected since this summer following its application for a grant under the Butch Lewis Act. That legislation, under discussion in Congress for years, was rolled into Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that became law just seven weeks into his administration.
“Thanks to today’s announcement, tens of thousands of union retirees and workers in states like Ohio, Michigan, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri can go to bed tonight knowing their pension they worked so damn hard for is going to be there for them when they need it,” Biden said.
Biden has held dozens of similar announcements on parts of his economic legislation, jobs numbers, factory openings and other relatively minor accomplishments since shortly after taking office in January 2021. His job approval numbers nevertheless continued to remain low, and his critics delighted in mocking his frequent gaffes while reading from his prepared speeches.
Democrats, nevertheless, had a surprisingly good showing in last month’s midterm elections, and even gained a true majority in the Senate rather than having to rely on Vice President Kamala Harris to break the 50-50 tie for control.
Josh Holmes, a Republican consultant who hosts a podcast along with two other allies of Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, joked in Thursday’s episode that Democrats might not need to worry about getting a different nominee in 2024.
“Why would they change? Why would they change? Nothing but success for these clowns,” he said.
Steve Schale, a Democratic consultant who worked on a pro-Biden super PAC in the 2020 campaign, said it was important for Biden to continue talking about his accomplishments so Americans actually learn about them. “I do think the basic blocking and tackling is important to their overall message of normalizing politics again,” he said.
Biden, who just turned 80, has said he is likely to run for a second term, but that he is not in any hurry to announce and probably would not do so until after the holidays.
While some Democrats predicted that he would face a primary challenge if Republicans won back control of both chambers of Congress, the forecast “red wave” never materialized. Republicans won back the House, but with the slimmest of margins, and actually lost a seat in the Senate.
That showing means Biden has the best midterm performance of any president going back to 2002, when Republican George W. Bush saw a pickup of seats in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.