WASHINGTON - U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden attacked President Donald Trump on Thursday as caring only about the stock market as the world’s biggest economy founders in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden accused the U.S. leader, his Republican opponent in the November 3 national election, of being “focused solely” on how the stock market is faring, even as nearly 50 million workers have been laid off in the past four months. Trump frequently tweets favorable comments on days when the market has soared and says the country is headed to better economic times in the second half of 2020 and into 2021.
Biden told workers at a metal products factory in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, that Trump does not care about them, “not you, your families.” He said if he wins the election and assumes office next January, “I’ll be laser-focused on working families, not the wealthy investor class.”
He said Trump had made “big promises” to add manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and repair the country’s deteriorating infrastructure.
“What happened to all that?” Biden asked.
Biden’s scathing assessment of Trump’s performance on the economy came as he unveiled a $700 billion manufacturing plan that he said would add 5 million new jobs to help blunt the country’s economic turmoil wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden toured the metalworks facility and then outlined his “Build Back Better” proposal that places a premium on national government procurement of American-made products.
Biden, the Democrats’ presumptive nominee in the election for a four-year term in the White House, leads Trump in national polls and in key battleground states such as Pennsylvania. But the surveys also narrowly show voters think Trump, a real estate and golf resort entrepreneur before winning the 2016 presidential election, is best suited to handle economic issues.
Biden said his plan includes $300 billion for research and development projects in clean energy, telecommunications, artificial intelligence and other fields. It also includes $400 billion for the government purchase of U.S.-built goods, such as environmentally clean products and construction materials.
Before the speech, one of his aides said, “This is no time to just build back to the way things were before, with the economy’s same old structural weaknesses and inequality still in place.” The aide said Biden believes it is “a moment to imagine and build a new American economy for our families and next generation.”
Biden’s campaign said it hopes the plan will “power new demand for American products, materials and services and ensure that they are shipped on U.S.-flagged cargo carriers” if they are exported to foreign countries.
Any companies receiving government aid under the plan would be required to commit to a $15 minimum wage for its workers, paid leave and the guaranteed option to join a union.
Biden’s campaign said the promise of U.S. government purchases would encourage businesses to boost hiring at a time the U.S. has fallen into a coronavirus-caused recession. Millions of workers have been laid off from jobs as the number of new coronavirus infections has been increasing by the day to a total of more than 62,000 on Wednesday, a new one-day peak.
In addition to the new jobs spending, Biden hopes to tighten rules on what products can be designated “made in America” and therefore qualify for government procurement.
Biden plans in future speeches to spell out plans for developing clean energy and sustainable infrastructure, building up a workforce of caregivers and educators, and advancing racial equity in the aftermath of coast-to-coast protests against police abuse of minorities.