February 6, 2023

Biden travels to Michigan to appeal to voters in state that sided with Trump

The surtax would apply to the profit that companies reap from U.S. sales of products or services rendered abroad instead of domestically. It would result in a 30.8 percent tax rate on such profit, Biden’s campaign said.

The move marked Biden’s latest attempt to appeal to working-class voters in the Upper Midwest, where Hillary Clinton suffered stunning losses four years ago that handed the presidency to Trump. The plans come on top of Biden’s previously released “Build Back Better” economic blueprint, which was designed to counter Trump’s “America First” agenda.

“He now hopes we won’t notice what he said, or won’t remember,” Biden said of Trump in a scathing speech that accused the president of not living up to the promises he made to protect workers and their jobs. “He’s failed our economy and our country.”

Biden’s remarks were part of an angry rebuke to Trump on issues including the military and the coronavirus pandemic. But his focus was on the president’s economic record, which he attacked in some of his sharpest terms to date. He called Trump’s trade policy “reckless and chaotic” and accused him of thrusting the country into recession.

Trump allies have looked to public opinion of the president’s economic stewardship, which has generally been more favorable than support for his handling of the pandemic and other issues, as one of the few rays of hope for winning a second term.

But Biden has campaigned against the president’s résumé on economic matters and presented a competing vision. He spoke against the backdrop of a large American flag and gleaming American-made pickup trucks on Wednesday, declaring: “I’m not looking to punish American business. But there’s a better way. Make it in Michigan. Make it in America.”

The former vice president spoke at an autoworkers union regional headquarters in Warren, a suburb of Detroit that typifies the battlegrounds that strategists in both parties expect to determine the election. Warren is in Macomb County, where a previous generation of Democrats flipped to support Ronald Reagan and which twice voted for Barack Obama before supporting Trump for president in 2016.

With two months left before the election, Trump and Biden are suddenly contesting with more urgency three Rust Belt states the Republican incumbent carried. Both men traveled to Wisconsin last week, and Trump plans to be in Michigan on Thursday.

Together with Pennsylvania, where both candidates will appear Friday, the states have become testing grounds for the competing messages the candidates are offering in the final stages of the race. All three states feature large urban areas with many liberal voters of color; moderate suburbs that have swung away from Trump since he took office; and White, rural areas still largely drawn to the president.

Trump is seeking to portray himself as a bulwark against violent protesters, and he has frequently stoked racial tension — divisive strategies he used against Clinton four years ago and that have become hallmarks of his presidency.

Biden is casting himself as a unifying figure capable of healing the deep racial, political and economic wounds he says Trump has carved into the country. Chief among them, Biden has argued, is Trump’s mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic.

Amid those sharp differences, however, both men are positioning themselves as champions of the working class, with a focus on protecting jobs from being outsourced. Yet both have been forced to defend mixed records.

Their competing pitches show how both parties have recently come to embrace hardening economic nationalism after years of largely supporting free trade. Biden himself was once a supporter of NAFTA, a sweeping agreement that Trump lambasted to great success four years ago.

But in the current race, Biden is determined not to let Trump’s record with working-class voters go unchallenged. A Biden campaign document outlining his new proposal takes Trump to task for stoking a trade war with China and signing a broad tax law that benefited corporations and the wealthy — steps that have faced criticism for their effect on American workers.

As part of his proposal, Biden is vowing to use executive powers “to ensure the federal government is delivering on its obligation to use taxpayer dollars to Buy American products and support American supply chains,” according to his campaign.

Biden’s trip to Michigan is part of a post-Labor Day strategy that campaign officials have said will include more travel. He spent much of the summer campaigning remotely from his home in Delaware through virtual events and prerecorded videos and audio.

Some Democrats have been eager for Biden to hit the road more often and visit states such as Michigan. Many are still haunted by memories of 2016, when Clinton’s perceived neglect of Wisconsin was widely considered a factor in her defeat there. She did, however, spend far more time in Pennsylvania, which she also lost, largely because of Trump’s appeal among rural voters.

Biden was last in Michigan in March, when he campaigned ahead of the state’s Democratic primary. He won the state handily.

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