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Biden heads back to Ohio to try to woo blue collar voters

By Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden travels to Ohio on Wednesday and will announce plans to bolster pension plans for millions of Americans in an attempt to woo working class voters frustrated with high inflation.

The White House will provide financial assistance to multi-employer pension funds, which are currently projected to become insolvent in 2026. The funds are created through agreements between employers and a union, and the proposed financing would keep them solvent until 2051.

Rising prices have left Biden and Democrats' control of the U.S. Senate and House vulnerable at midterm elections in November. Ohio, which former President Donald Trump won in 2020, is the site of a competitive Senate race in November.

While Ohio's urban areas favor Democrats, Biden has tried to chip away at Republican dominance in rural areas with repeated visits and appeals to unionized workers in the state. The trip on Wednesday will be his fourth to Ohio as president.

Biden's public approval rating is close to the lowest level of his presidency, with 57 percent of Americans disapproving of his performance, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll on June. 28.

His support even within his own Democratic Party has declined. The poll found 72% of Democrats approved of his performance, compared with about 85% in August 2021.

When Biden visited Ohio in May, he promised to bring back jobs, rebuild the state's manufacturing industry and withstand competition from China.

That message suffered a recent setback as Intel Corp postponed a July 22 groundbreaking for a computer chip plant near the state capital of Columbus, after a planned investment of more than $50 billion in the semiconductor industry stalled in Congress.

As inflation has become a top issue for voters around the country, Biden's administration has pushed back on recession fears, arguing that it is possible to curb inflation without causing a major economic slowdown.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Kieran Murray and Bradley Perrett)

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