BI­DEN OF­FERS NEW DEAL-LIKE AGENDA, FAULTS TRUMP’S ‘DEEP ECO­NOMIC TOLL’

Chicago Sun-Times - - NATION/WORLD - BY BILL BARROW AND MARC LEVY

DUN­MORE, Pa. — Demo­crat Joe Bi­den turned his cam­paign against Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to­ward the econ­omy Thurs­day, in­tro­duc­ing a New Deal-like eco­nomic agenda while draw­ing a sharp con­trast with a bil­lion­aire in­cum­bent he said has aban­doned work­ing-class Amer­i­cans amid cas­cad­ing crises.

The for­mer vice pres­i­dent pre­sented de­tails of a com­pre­hen­sive agenda that he touted as the most ag­gres­sive gov­ern­ment in­vest­ment in the U.S. econ­omy since World War II. He also ac­cused Trump of ig­nor­ing the coronaviru­s pan­demic and the cli­mate cri­sis while en­cour­ag­ing divi­sion amid a na­tional reck­on­ing with sys­temic racism.

“His fail­ures come with a ter­ri­ble hu­man cost and a deep eco­nomic toll,” Bi­den said dur­ing a 30-minute ad­dress at a metal works firm near his child­hood home­town of Scran­ton, Penn­syl­va­nia. “Time and again, work­ing fam­i­lies are pay­ing the price for this ad­min­is­tra­tion’s in­com­pe­tence.”

Bi­den’s shift to the econ­omy meets Trump on turf the Repub­li­can pres­i­dent had seen as his strength be­fore the pan­demic se­verely cur­tailed con­sumer ac­tiv­ity and drove un­em­ploy­ment to near-Great De­pres­sion lev­els. Now, Bi­den and his aides be­lieve the is­sue is an all-en­com­pass­ing open­ing that gives Democrats av­enues to at­tack Trump on mul­ti­ple fronts while ex­plain­ing their own gov­ern­ing vi­sion for the coun­try.

The for­mer vice pres­i­dent be­gan Thurs­day with pro­pos­als in­tended to rein­vig­o­rate the U.S. man­u­fac­tur­ing and tech­nol­ogy sec­tors.

Bi­den called for a $400 bil­lion, four-year in­crease in gov­ern­ment pur­chas­ing of U.S.based goods and ser­vices, plus $300 bil­lion in new re­search and de­vel­op­ment in U.S. tech­nol­ogy firms. He pro­posed tight­en­ing cur­rent

“Buy Amer­i­can” laws that are in­tended to ben­e­fit U.S. firms but that gov­ern­ment agen­cies can cir­cum­vent.

The pro­cure­ment over­haul is based on ideas Bi­den has dis­cussed with his for­mer pres­i­den­tial ri­val, Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren, who of­fered sim­i­lar pro­pos­als dur­ing the Demo­cratic pri­mary. Those moves would cre­ate 5 mil­lion new jobs, Bi­den said.

He also em­pha­sized pre­vi­ous pledges to es­tab­lish a $15-per-hour min­i­mum wage, strengthen work­ers’ col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing rights and re­peal Repub­li­can-backed tax breaks for U.S. cor­po­ra­tions that move jobs overseas. And his cam­paign pledged that those in­vest­ments in do­mes­tic mar­kets would come be­fore Bi­den en­tered ne­go­ti­a­tions for any new in­ter­na­tional trade agree­ments.

His open­ing em­pha­sis on man­u­fac­tur­ing and la­bor pol­icy is no co­in­ci­dence: Bi­den wants to cap­i­tal­ize on his union ties and win back work­ing-class white vot­ers who fu­eled Trump’s 2016 up­set win. He noted his mid­dle-class up­bring­ing and al­luded to Trump’s child­hood as the son of a mul­ti­mil­lion­aire real es­tate de­vel­oper.

Un­der­scor­ing the dif­fer­ence, Bi­den took a side trip af­ter his speech to see his boy­hood home in Scran­ton and briefly greeted the fam­ily who re­sides there now.

Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence on Thurs­day was also in Penn­syl­va­nia, where he cast Bi­den as a threat to the econ­omy. He said the com­pany where Bi­den spoke re­ceived fed­eral pan­demic aid that Trump signed into law.

TI­MOTHY A. CLARY/AFP VIA GETTY IM­AGES

For­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den on Thurs­day gives a speech to work­ers af­ter tour­ing McGregor In­dus­tries in Dun­more, Penn­syl­va­nia.

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