Biden Outlines $700 Billion Economic-Revival Plan
| le 10 July 2020
Asked how costs would be offset, campaign refers to Biden’s previous plan to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans and reverse tax cuts for high earners
By Sabrina Siddiqui – The Wall Street Journal
Former Vice President Joe Biden laid out a $700 billion plan Thursday to revive the U.S. economy with an America-centric approach to job creation and manufacturing, issuing a direct challenge to President Trump as they prepare to compete for working-class voters in the November election.
Mr. Biden’s “Buy American” economic agenda is designed to counter Mr. Trump’s “America First” platform through what he said would be the largest mobilization since World War II of public investments in procurement, infrastructure and research and development.
Under Mr. Biden’s plan, the federal government would spend $400 billion in government purchasing of U.S.-based goods and services over four years and $300 billion in research and development for new technologies and clean-energy initiatives.
“The stakes couldn’t be higher,” said Mr. Biden, who spoke from Dunmore, Pa., and cited the economic damage and human cost inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic. “That’s why this is no time for divisive politics. Donald Trump may believe in pitting Americans against Americans. I don’t.”
The presumptive Democratic nominee’s remarks in the battleground state came as Vice President Mike Pence made campaign stops in eastern Pennsylvania on the same day. Mr. Biden spoke at a metalworks plant to outline what his campaign billed as the first plank of his economic recovery plan.
“Enough is enough,” Mr. Biden said. “It’s time to reverse the priorities in this country. It’s time to help small businesses, middle-class folks, manage their way through the pandemic.”
Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign released a new television ad Thursday attacking Mr. Biden’s support for trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Responding to Mr. Biden’s speech, Trump campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley said, “We don’t need to guess what a Biden economy would look like since Americans have been forced to live through it once already.”
Mr. Biden said it was Mr. Trump who had reneged on his 2016 campaign pledge to revitalize U.S. manufacturing and bring jobs back to rural America.
“Donald Trump loves to talk, and talk and talk,” Mr. Biden said. “But after three and a half years of big promises, what do the American people have to show for all the talk?”
When asked by The Wall Street Journal how he would offset the new spending, Mr. Biden’s campaign referred to his previous tax plan, which would raise taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans and reverse Mr. Trump’s tax cuts for high earners.
Mr. Biden has previously released a tax plan that would revert the top individual income-tax rate for individuals with incomes above $400,000 from 37% under current law to 39.6%. He would also raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%.
Mr. Biden’s plans would add $700 billion in federal spending to more than $6 trillion over the next 10 years he had previously laid out through the course of the campaign. That would pay for policies like expanding government health-care coverage and offering universal prekindergarten.
While Mr. Biden says he is committed to paying for all of his plans with tax increases or spending cuts, he has so far detailed about $4 trillion in such measures, indicating his program could further increase federal debt. He didn’t announce any new revenue raisers to cover his new spending plans, and his campaign didn’t provide further specifics when reached.
Through the course of the campaign, aides to Mr. Biden have said they would eventually find offsets for all new spending considered “permanent,” but might not do that for programs they consider short-term stimulus to help pull the economy out of a deep recession they expect to inherit if Mr. Biden wins in November.
While President Trump vowed before taking office to slash the deficit, it has ballooned on his watch, due first to the 2017 tax cut that was enacted with few offsets, and more recently the multi-trillion dollar relief packages adopted this year to respond to the pandemic.
Many Democratic economists—including some of those advising the Biden campaign—say that policy makers shouldn’t worry at the moment about expanding government borrowing, especially with interest rates near zero. Those economists say that indicates that the near-term risk of federal debt overloading debt markets—and creating a damaging increase in borrowing rates—seems low.
President Trump has declined to give many details on his second-term agenda. He has said he wants to send Americans a second round of direct payments.
Mr. Biden said Thursday he would ramp up “Buy American” provisions covering U.S. government spending that, under his platform, would account for a larger part of the U.S. economy. He also said his plan would create five million new jobs in manufacturing and innovation, in addition to taking steps to address the damage inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I do not buy for one second that the vitality of American manufacturing is a thing of the past,” Mr. Biden said.
Mr. Biden repeated his criticism of Mr. Trump as too slow to respond to the coronavirus pandemic; he said he wanted to reduce America’s reliance on foreign countries after the pandemic exposed U.S. vulnerabilities, and those of other countries, in relying on foreign producers such as China for medical supplies.
Mr. Biden would seek to boost U.S. production of personal protective equipment, pharmaceuticals and other medical devices, tapping into a movement that has gained bipartisan support in Congress. American hospitals have reported shortages in supplies while grappling with the coronavirus.
Although Mr. Biden leads Mr. Trump in both swing state and national polls, the president has continued to earn favorable approval ratings on the economy.
In 2016, Mr. Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate to carry Pennsylvania since 1988. Recent polls show the president trailing Mr. Biden in the state. A RealClearPolitics average of recent polls shows Mr. Biden with roughly a 6.5-point lead over Mr. Trump in Pennsylvania.
Mr. Biden, who was born in Scranton, has often highlighted his personal ties to the state. He launched his presidential bid from Pittsburgh last year and based his campaign headquarters in Philadelphia.
Mr. Biden sought to cast Mr. Trump as out of touch with the working class Americans he has claimed to champion.
“Growing up rich and looking down on people is a bit different than how I grew up here,” Mr. Biden said, while also invoking the loss of his first wife in 1972. “I know how hard it is to be a single dad who has to work with two young sons at home.”
“I see a different America than Trump,” he added. “He’s the exact wrong person to lead at this moment.”