CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte took center stage Friday afternoon for a landmark announcement about retirement.
President Donald Trump arrived in Charlotte where he signed an executive order, "Strengthening Retirement Security in America," to make it easier for small businesses to group together to provide their workers with retirement plans.
The White House says the order directs the Labor and Treasury departments to issue regulations to help businesses join together to offer Association Retirement Plans. Administration officials say high costs discourage employers from offering plans like 401(k)s at a time when surveys show workers worried about being able to live comfortably in retirement.
Trump said that as a result of the order, retirement plans "will now be available to more Americans than ever before."
Mark Harris, who is running for North Carolina's 9th Congressional District, was grateful that Trump's motorcade rolled through town Friday, in large part, to host a fundraiser supporting his campaign.
"I think it speaks volumes about the importance of this race,” Harris told Channel 9.
The president signed the executive order at the Harris Campus of Central Piedmont Community College near the airport.
“Indivisible Charlotte" rallied outside the CPCC Harris campus during the executive order signing.
The public signing of the executive order was followed by a private fundraiser for Harris (R-N.C., 9th District) and U.S. Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C., 13th District).
Trump calls N Carolina redistricting ruling 'unfair'
Trump says the prospect of a North Carolina drawing new districts weeks ahead of the November midterm election is "unfair."
Speaking at a fundraiser for a pair of GOP candidates in Charlotte, Trump says, "I think it's unfair with this whole redistricting thing they're doing in North Carolina."
A panel of federal judges Monday struck down the state's congressional map, saying Republican state legislators went too far using political data to preserve GOP-held seats.
The judges raised the possibility of redrawing the districts by mid-September so they could be used in November elections, or at least before the next session of Congress is seated in January.
Republicans are objecting to the plan, which comes as they are fighting to defend their control of the House of Representatives.
There were dozens of people who lined the streets in front of the country club. Some protested Trump's visit, while some supported the president’s arrival.
Dozens of guests were there for the president's arrival at the Air National Guard Friday afternoon.
Below is a list of those who were there Friday afternoon to greet the president.
- Representative Richard Hudson-United States Representative from North Carolina's 8th Congressional District
- Representative Mark Meadows-United States Representative from North Carolina's 11th Congressional District
- Representative Ted Budd-United States Representative from North Carolina's 13th Congressional District
- Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest-Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina
- Major General Gregory Lusk-Adjutant General of the North Carolina National Guard
- Colonel Bryony Terrell-Wing Commander, 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina
- Major John C. Thompson-Logistics Readiness Officer of the North Carolina National Guard
- Deputy Jordan Sherrill-Deputy Sheriff of the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office
- Deputy Timothy Sims-Deputy Sheriff of the Cleveland County Sheriff's Office
- King Kenny-Veteran of World War II
"It's very tough for a small business to compete against the big guys,” said Ben Edwards, who owns a small business.
Edwards said his small business, “Ben’s v-Twins,” a motorcycle repair specialist, has never been able to offer retirement benefits to employees.
Government statistics show that 40 percent of America’s workforce does not have access to 401K plans. The majority are employees of small businesses.
"If you can offer a 401K, or anything similar to that, to an employee, it's definitely going to keep them happier,” Edwards said.
While the details of Trump's executive order remain under wraps, Harris said that offering retirement benefits should be a no-brainer, bi-partisan issue.
"I think every American ought to be able to have that opportunity,” Harris said.
Trump said he's going to "study" a federal employee wage freeze, amid criticism of his Thursday order preventing an increase to most civilian federal workers.
"I'm going to study that over the weekend," Trump said, calling it a fitting issue to explore over the Labor Day holiday. The White House is not immediately explaining Trump's comment.
Trump announced Thursday he was nixing a 2.1 percent across-the-board raise for most workers effective in January, as well as separate locality pay increases averaging 25.7 percent. He cited the need to put the nation "on a fiscally sustainable course."
The president last year signed a package of tax cuts that is forecast to add about $1.5 trillion to federal deficits over 10 years.
That impacts hundreds of Charlotte workers at the Veterans Affairs Housing Authority, and many other agencies. They were all supposed to receive a 2.1 percent pay hike next year, but Trump said he's canceling it because of a rising federal deficit.
North Carolina Democratic Party statement on Trump's visit:
“It’s no surprise that Mark Harris and Ted Budd are desperately calling on President Trump and national Republicans to help prop up their floundering campaigns. Mark Harris’ comments against women show he’s out of step with this century, while Ted Budd continues to put big money special interests ahead of North Carolina families. Dan McCready and Kathy Manning are running strong campaigns to be independent voices in Congress by focusing on the issues that matter most to our state, like protecting Medicare and Social Security and ensuring access to affordable health care. North Carolinians are ready for a change this November. An appearance by President Trump isn’t going to change that."
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