Politics

Biden jokes ‘unfortunately that’s probably Trump calling me’ as phone goes off during speech



President Joe Biden was speaking about the next phase of his economic agenda and his American Rescue Plan in Cleveland, Ohio, when a phone rang in the audience.

On Wednesday, Mr Biden was talking about “the dignified retirement with your spouse in the home in your community you’ve worked and lived for your whole life” and how “the reality is that for so many people, the goalposts keep moving” when a phone was heard going off.

Seemingly responding to the sound, Mr Biden quipped: “Unfortunately, that’s probably Trump calling me.” It was met with laughter from the audience.

Reassuring frustrated blue-collar voters, Mr Biden visited Ohio to highlight federal action to shore up troubled pension funding for millions now on the job or retired.

Mr Biden’s speech at a Cleveland high school showcased a final rule tied to his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package from last year. The rule allows troubled multi-company pensions to be made financially whole, ensuring full benefits for 2 million to 3 million workers and retirees.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about his economic agenda, during his visit to Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., July 6, 2022

(REUTERS)

Hurt politically by inflation at a 40-year high and the damage wrought by the pandemic, the president chose to deliver his message in a state that has been trending strongly Republican, with Donald Trump easily carrying it twice. This is Mr Biden’s sixth visit as president as he labours to personally reverse that electoral tide.

Details about Mr Biden’s remarks were shared by two administration officials, who insisted on anonymity to preview his speech.

U.S. President Joe Biden gestures as he speaks, during his visit to Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., July 6, 2022

(REUTERS)

The roughly 200 pension plans receiving assistance faced possible insolvency without government aid. And without the full benefits, workers and retirees could struggle to pay for housing, food and other essentials. The financial support should help keep the pension funds solvent for roughly 30 years until 2051.

That’s important, several retirees said.

Bill DeVito, 73, was an iron worker for almost 50 years before retiring a decade ago. When his pension was cut 40% in 2017, he said, “it was devastating”.

“The thing of it is, we had a lot of politicians over the years saying, hey, we’ll try to help you, we’ll do everything we can, and nobody’s ever done anything for us until Joe Biden come along,” he said. He said that other Ohio Democrats in Washington kept pushing, too.

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

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

The Associated Press contributed to this report .



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