Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 5 August 2020

US ELECTIONS

Joe Biden lays out economic agenda ahead of US election

Biden pledges to create five million new jobs

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks in Dunmore, Pennsylvania about his economic recovery plan. Getty Images/AFP 
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks in Dunmore, Pennsylvania about his economic recovery plan. Getty Images/AFP 

Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled a $700 billion plan to create millions of American jobs and invest in new technology in a challenge to President Donald Trump on economic policy, a critical issue for November's election.

Mr Biden presented the "Build Back Better" proposal, as a contrast to Mr Trump's "America First" agenda, in a speech at a metal works plant in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is a battleground state considered crucial to both candidates' chances of victory.

Mr Biden promoted his economic agenda as the most aggressive government investment in the US economy since the Second World War.

He also accused Mr 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,” Mr Biden said in the 30-minute address.

“Time and again, working families are paying the price for this administration’s incompetence.”

"He's exactly the wrong person to lead in this moment."

Former Vice President Joe Biden, center, is given a tour of the metal fabricating facility in Dunmore, Pennsylvania. AP Photo
Former Vice President Joe Biden, center, is given a tour of the metal fabricating facility in Dunmore, Pennsylvania. AP Photo

Mr Trump has often claimed economic gains as one of the pillars of his presidency, but the coronavirus pandemic has devastated the country's growth by locking down consumers and sending unemployment numbers soaring.

Former vice president Mr Biden presented proposals to reinvigorate the US manufacturing and technology sectors.

He said the goal was "to sharpen America's competitive edge" in new industries such as battery technology, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and clean energy.

"That's the future," Mr Biden said.

He called for a $400bn (Dh1.46 trillion), four-year increase in the government buying US goods and services, plus $300bn in new research and development in US technology businesses.

Mr Biden said the investment in research and development, and procurement, would be at levels not seen since the Great Depression and the Second World War.

He also proposed tightening “Buy American” laws that are meant to benefit US companies, but which government agencies can circumvent.

Those moves would create five million new jobs, Mr Biden said.

He emphasised earlier pledges to adopt a minimum wage of $15 an hour, strengthen union bargaining rights and repeal Republican-backed tax breaks for US corporations that move jobs overseas.

Mr Biden also proposed to raise the country's corporate tax rate to 28 per cent from 21.

His campaign pledged investments in domestic markets would come before he entered negotiations for any new international trade agreements.

The Biden campaign also spoke of increased foreign procurement and outsourcing of jobs by US corporations during Mr Trump’s presidency.

Mr Trump won in 2016 largely on the promise of bringing back lost manufacturing jobs.

Mr Biden will continue in coming weeks with an energy and infrastructure plan to battle climate change.

A third package will focus on making child care and elder care more affordable for working-age Americans.

“It’s not sufficient to build back. We have to build back better,” Mr Biden said.

He said he would “ensure all Americans are in on the deal".

Vice President Mike Pence was also in Pennsylvania on Thursday, where he described Mr Biden as a threat to the economy.

Mr Pence promoted job gains before the pandemic and said the president was now leading a “great American comeback".

Updated: July 10, 2020 02:59 AM

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