Joe Biden on Thursday proposed a $700 billion plan to use government purchasing power to boost U.S. manufacturing and innovation.
Biden’s plan calls for the government to buy American products and invest in areas including clean energy research, infrastructure and health care, with the aim of bringing back jobs lost during the pandemic and adding 5 million beyond that.
“When the federal government spends taxpayers’ money, we should use it to buy American products and support American jobs,” Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said in an afternoon speech near his childhood home in Scranton, Pa.
The Biden proposal is the first plank of what his campaign says will be a four-part “build back better” agenda to strengthen the recovery from the coronavirus. “Biden does not accept the defeatist view that the forces of automation and globalization render us helpless to retain well-paid union jobs and create more of them here in America,” the former vice president’s campaign said in a statement summarizing the plan.
Biden’s plan calls for $400 billion in federal procurement spending on American-made products over four years, which his campaign says would be the largest such public investment since World War II. The spending would be focused in areas including clean vehicles and green energy generation; construction materials for infrastructure improvements, including steel, cement and concrete; and critical medical supplies and pharmaceuticals to replenish national stockpiles.
The plan also includes a $300 billion investment in U.S. research on technologies ranging from "electric vehicle technology to lightweight materials to 5G and artificial intelligence -- to unleash high-quality job creation in high-value manufacturing and technology." And it calls for a review to evaluate and protect U.S. supply chains.
Biden’s proposal reportedly builds on a plan from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and the former vice president’s campaign “consulted closely” on its proposal with Warren’s team, according to The Washington Post.
In his speech, Biden again pledged to reverse some of the Trump tax cuts for corporations and raise the corporate tax rate to 28%, but his campaign did not spell out how it would pay for the full $700 billion in proposed spending.
Why it matters: “Biden’s pitch underscores a major shift by both major parties away from embracing globalization and free trade and toward protecting American workers and revitalizing struggling domestic industries,” the Post’s Sean Sullivan and Jeff Stein write.
Biden is in some ways proposing his own version of President Trump’s “America First” economic agenda, simultaneously challenging Trump’s approach and looking to undercut the president’s economic reelection message. The Post reports: “Biden’s announcement prompted frustration by some Trump allies that it was released before the president announced a similar ‘Buy American’ proposal that has been held up for months amid internal objections, according to current and former officials. Stephen K. Bannon, a former chief Trump strategist, said the president’s team was ‘caught flat-footed.’”