USA

With ‘Buy American’ Economic Speech, Biden Takes On Trump and ‘MAGA’

Joseph R. Biden Jr. will lay out a populist economic vision to revive and reinvest in American manufacturing on Thursday, calling for major new spending and stricter new rules to “Buy American” as part of an effort to more aggressively challenge President Trump on two of his signature issues: the economy and nationalism.

In a speech in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, Mr. Biden is expected to slash at Mr. Trump management of the economy while framing his own economic agenda around the campaign’s new tagline of “Build Back Better.”

Mr. Biden is expected to say his plans would leverage trade, tax and investment policy to spur domestic innovation, reduce the reliance on foreign manufacturing and create five million additional American manufacturing and innovation jobs, according to a preview outlined by senior campaign officials.

“In this time of crisis, Joe Biden has a plan to create millions of good-paying jobs and to give America’s working families the tools, choices, and freedom they need to build back better,” said a campaign summary of Mr. Biden’s economic recovery plan.

Mr. Biden will speak at a metalworks factory in Dunmore not far from this childhood home of Scranton, a place where Mr. Biden often returns rhetorically to emphasize his blue-collar roots.

Also on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence embarked on a Trump campaign bus tour across Pennsylvania, a sign of the state’s significance in the Electoral College calculations of both campaigns.

Mr. Biden’s campaign is riding high in the polls but his advisers, as well as Republican strategists, still see the economy as perhaps the area of greatest vulnerability against Mr. Trump. The president’s campaign — and the president himself when on message — has tried to argue that he oversaw a booming economy until the coronavirus pandemic brought about an “artificial” slowdown.

House Republican leaders recently briefed their members on polling showing Mr. Trump’s enduring advantage on the economy, and the recent New York Times/Siena College poll showed the economy as perhaps a lone bright spot for the president, even as he trailed by 14 percentage points over all.

Mr. Biden has long cast himself as a champion of the American worker, particularly as vice president, when he led the Obama administration’s Middle Class Task Force and oversaw implementation of the 2009 economic stimulus bill. But he has faced criticism from Mr. Trump and former liberal rivals like Senator Bernie Sanders over his support for the North American Free Trade Agreement in the 1990s and other trade deals that followed.

On Thursday, the Trump campaign announced a new television ad attacking Mr. Biden’s record as “dangerous and foolish,” highlighting Mr. Biden’s vote for NAFTA in 1993, past support for trade relations with China and for the Trans-Pacific Partnership as vice president.

The Pennsylvania speech is the first of several steps Mr. Biden is taking in the coming weeks to detail an expanded economic agenda, beyond what he proposed in the primaries. Mr. Biden will specifically propose a $300 billion increase in government spending on research and development of technologies like electric vehicles and 5G cellular networks, as well as directing an additional $400 billion in federal procurement spending to products that are manufactured in the United States.

Mr. Biden’s campaign is rallying top surrogates in key battleground states to amplify and showcase his economic message on Friday: Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota will hold a round table aimed at Arizona voters, Senators Tammy Duckworth and Tammy Baldwin will do one for Wisconsin, Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan will headline one for her state and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio will hold one for his state.

Aides also said that Mr. Biden, the former vice president, would propose additional deficit spending next year to help the economy recover from the recession caused by the pandemic, building on the more than $3 trillion in new borrowing that Congress and Mr. Trump have already approved amid the crisis.

Mr. Biden has thus far proposed to offset the entirety of his spending plans with nearly $4 trillion in tax increases, largely by reversing some of Mr. Trump’s signature tax cuts for high earners and otherwise raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations. Aides said he would do the same with his procurement and research plans.

Mr. Biden proposed the smallest amount of new federal spending among the major Democratic contenders during the presidential primary race, and his plan, despite its new spending, remains far less expensive than those proposed by his former rivals, like Mr. Sanders of Vermont and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Senior Biden officials repeatedly emphasized that their new plans were “bold” in a conference call late on Wednesday. Mr. Biden has sought to straddle the line on economic policy and elsewhere between his moderate political instincts and a progressive wing of the party that lined up in the primaries behind candidates, like Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren, who promised sweeping and systemic change.

Earlier on Wednesday, a Biden-Sanders “unity task force” published 110 pages of platform recommendations, including plans on the economy. Its recommendations included more sweeping proposals than Mr. Biden has embraced in the campaign, including a New Deal-style federal jobs program to use government funds to put Americans to work on infrastructure and other projects. The recommendations also included a so-called baby bonds proposal that would seek to reduce wealth disparities between Black and white Americans by giving every child in the country a government-funded savings account.

Mr. Biden is planning four rollouts ahead of the Democratic National Convention in August on his plans to “mobilize the American people” for challenges in a future Biden administration. The speech on Thursday is the first in the series.

The next three, according to a campaign document, will be on “modern infrastructure and an equitable, clean energy future,” then a plan “to build a 21st-century caregiving and education work force” followed by a plan “to advance racial equity in America.”

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