As the United States looks towards the November elections, many Americans will be prioritizing one issue over the rest: the economy.
In Joe Biden’s quest to be elected president, he has promised to follow the path of Franklin D. Roosevelt and potentially embark on a new New Deal to shore up the American economy from deep unemployment thanks in part to COVID-19. In a report released earlier today, the Biden campaign announced a new manufacturing and innovation strategy that “will marshall the resources of the federal government in ways that we have not seen since World War II” to create at least five million jobs in the United States.
The report outlines six steps that will figure around Biden’s version of “Buy American.” The first is aptly titled “Buy American” and promises to use the federal government’s purchasing power to spend $400 billion in procurement investment that will include requiring the government to commit to purchasing American steel and other construction equipment and investing in clean energy vehicles, American-made pharmaceuticals, and artificial technology/telecommunications.
The second and third portions of Biden’s economic recovery plan are promises to provide capital and “Buy American” contracts for small and medium-sized manufacturing companies, along with increasing federal investment totaling $300 billion into Research and Development for emerging technologies like 5G and artificial intelligence. Part of this $300 billion investment will also go to the Small Business Innovation Research program and a workforce training program for women and workers of color sponsored by the Department of Labor.
The fifth pillar of Biden’s economic plan is to pursue a “Pro-American-Worker Tax and Trade Strategy” that includes aggressively enforcing U.S. trade laws with China and counteracting China’s theft of American intellectual property. This portion of the plan also includes reforming portions of the tax code that encourage offshoring by U.S. businesses and a “claw-back” provision that requires companies to return any and all investment money and tax credits that they have received from the federal government if they send jobs overseas. The plan also calls for increased labor enforcement measures in any future trade agreements with foreign countries, along with a “carbon adjustment fee” on any countries who are not meeting their promised commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement that was signed by the Obama Administration in 2015 that President Trump pulled out of two years later. Part of this plan will also call for the United States to reenter into the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The final portion of Biden’s economic recovery plan is a promise to bring back critical supply chains into the United States. The vice president will conduct a 100-day critical supply chain review to identify any supply chain vulnerabilities within the United States and use a combination of tax reform and increased government spending to reshore supply chains back into the United States.
Vice President Biden will be in Pennsylvania later today to discuss his economic recovery plan.
This economic plan is a page out of Donald Trump’s 2016 playbook. Throughout the 2016 election and early into his presidency, many of Trump’s earliest supporters were calling for a new Republican Party that was more populist and centered around a plan of economic nationalism. Trump’s promise of tariffs and increased government spending certainly was part of the vision of this new Trumpian Right, but he also ended up pursuing a policy of increased deregulation and passing a large corporate tax cut. Biden’s plan is a co-option of the conservative populism many of Trump’s biggest intellectual supporters prefer to the mainstream GOP playbook of tax cuts and free trade.
Many of the voters that Biden is going after with this new economic plan are many of the voters who put Trump over the finish line in 2016. The whole purpose of Joe Biden being the Democratic nominee was to bring back many of these blue-collar working-class voters into the Democratic column. With an economic slowdown in our midst and a struggling incumbent, Biden’s plan to re-shore domestic industry out of the coronavirus might just be what many of those 2016 Trump voters are looking for, possibly flipping them back over to the Democratic Party in November.