Scranton vs Park Avenue

It didn’t attract much attention, but over the last few days, Joe Biden has crafted an effective economic message. In a voter town hall in Scranton Pennsylvania, and in subsequent speeches, Biden crystallized his powerful argument.

Although a majority of voters are worried about the Coronavirus pandemic, there is also deep concern about the economy: jobs, everyday bills, and healthcare costs.  Joe Biden is addressing this with a comprehensive plan (https://joebiden.com/build-back-better/#), while Donald Trump offers a set of bromides.

Until the last few weeks, when compared on a range of issues, voters saw Trump as better than Biden on only one issue: the economy.  But recently, the gap has narrowed.  The September 2nd, Quinnipiac poll ( https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=3671) found Biden and Trump tied on the question “who would do a better job handling the economy.”

Now Biden has found the perfect way to demonstrate to voters that Trump isn’t the one they should trust to handle the economy: Biden is making it personal.  “Guys like Trump who inherited everything and squandered what they inherited are the people that I’ve always had a problem with, not the people who are busting their neck… I really do view this campaign as a campaign between Scranton and Park Avenue.”  “Like a lot of you, I spent a lot of my life with guys like Donald Trump looking down on me. Looking down on the people who make a living with their hands. People who take care of our kids, clean our streets.”

Biden’s message is one of deep equality:  “One of the lessons my mother taught me… it’s one that you probably were taught too… She said, ‘Joey, remember nobody’s better than you, but everybody’s your equal…’ You don’t measure people by the size of their bank accounts. I don’t respect people based on how big the house they live in is. I don’t look down my nose when people are busting their necks just making a limit, nor do any of you.”  Biden is identifying with working folks, the ones who have been left out of Trump’s economy.

Based upon this perspective, Biden is directly attacking Trump’s fixation on the stock market.  “Trump says… everyone’s in the stock market. That’s why he cares about the stock market. What the hell is he talking about? People, I grew up in Scranton, Claymont, they don’t have money in stocks. Every penny we made was to pay the bills and take care of the families, putting clothes in the back, and a roof over our head.”

There are several important elements of Biden’s message.  One is raising the minimum wage. “[It’s] about time we start to pay essential workers for the fact that they’re essential. Blinders have been taken off the American people. I think they’re ready. They’re ready to insist that the minimum wage be $15 an hour.”

Another is emphasizing “work not wealth.” [My] entire campaign is built upon a simple concept. It’s time to reward hard work in America, not wealth. Reward work, not wealth… it’s the opposite now. Reward wealth and not work. We’re going to have to rebuild an economy in the wake of COVID-19. And as we do, we have an incredible opportunity to make long overdue investments for working families. To make sure the wealthy, the very wealthy and big corporations finally began to pay their fair share. I’m not looking to punish anybody, just pay your fair share.”

Buy American: “[My plan] starts with a pretty basic idea. When the government spends taxpayers’ money, we should spend that money to buy American products made by American workers in American supply chains to generate American growth and opportunity.”

Rebuild America: “During my first term alone, we’re going to invest $400 billion in federal money… to invest and purchase products and materials our country needs to modernize the infrastructure, to replenish critical stockpiles, to enhance our national security.” “My infrastructure plan is going to revitalize American infrastructure so the future is made in America.”

Protect workers: “I’ll fight for workers and unions at every step requiring all federal infrastructure projects to, one, pay prevailing wage, two, prioritize project labor agreements so collective bargaining is in place before the project starts, [employ] workers from registered apprenticeships… Pass the PRO Act to crack down on employers who are trying to block or break unions.”

Tax Fairness: “Look, I’m not looking to punish anybody, but dammit, it’s about time the super wealthy and corporate America start paying their fair share.”  Biden’s plan raises taxes for those who make more than $400,000 a year.  “You have nothing to worry about if you make less than 400… If you make more, you’re going to start to pay your fair share. No who makes less than 400 is going to pay a single penny more in taxes under our administration. In fact, tens of millions of middle class families are going to get tax cuts when they need it most, while you’re raising your children, while you’re trying to get affordable healthcare, buying your first home or saving for retirement”

Healthcare: In Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan ( https://joebiden.com/build-back-better/#), he promises to expand healthcare: “[Biden] will pass universal paid sick days and 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. And he has a plan to ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable health care, by providing a public option and lowering costs for care and for prescription drugs.”

Sex Discrimination:  In Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan, he promises to address sex discrimination: ” Biden will also address discrimination and harassment in the workplace, and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act as the next step in efforts to ensure women are paid equally for equal work.”

Just in time for the debates, Biden has found his economic message: “Guys like Trump who inherited everything and squandered what they inherited are the people that I’ve always had a problem with, not the people who are busting their neck… I really do view this campaign as a campaign between Scranton and Park Avenue.”