Speaking to Michiganders Wednesday, Joe Biden called unions America’s “economic engine” and laid out a plan to reignite that engine.
WARREN, MI — Cedric Vance works at the Romulus Engine and Transmission Plant for General Motors. He’s a newlywed with five children. He and his wife both work, and it places them firmly in the middle class. But that middle class is eroding, he said, and he feels it.
Vance is worried both about how wage growth has largely stagnated despite rising costs of living, but also about just keeping his job in a struggling economy.
“What I want to hear is job security, a way to keep companies from outsourcing,” he told The ‘Gander.
Tom Conway, president of United Steelworkers said President Donald Trump’s policies have been heavy on talk and massive corporate tax cuts, but light on strategic, long-term action when it comes to truly protecting American jobs.
“American workers need leaders who understand that our economy cannot survive if we continue to ship manufacturing and other jobs overseas,” he said. “America’s workers and industries can’t count on short-term solutions.”
Both Vance and Conway plan to vote for Joe Biden whose Made in America plan is central to addressing their families’ concerns.
As for the auto industry, Biden has big plans and shared them first with Michiganders.
Putting Auto Workers Front and Center in America
Speaking in Warren on Wednesday afternoon, Biden described the details of his plan to revitalize the auto industry.
Those plans include upgrading all federal vehicles made in America, adding one million American jobs, to do it and a policy to give a tax incentive to companies that invest in the American workforce.
“I got brung up on General Motors,” Biden said to a UAW audience. “Unions, as you’ve heard me say many times, built this country. Unions built this economy, the economic engine that has driven American manufacturing dynamism. Literally, literally in the case of the auto workers, you’re the ones that did it.”
Biden praised the resilience of Michigan workers, especially in light of the “reckless and chaotic” trade policy Trump pursued as president. And the lack of a concerted response to the coronavirus made that damaging situation far, far worse. The current recession, caused by the pandemic, has been the worst since the Great Depression, prompting Biden to compare Trump to Herbert Hoover, the president widely blamed for the extremity of the Great Depression.
“He knew how dangerous it was, and while this deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job on purpose. It was a life-and-death betrayal of the American people,” Biden said.“This is a recession created by Donald Trump’s negligence, and he is unfit for this job as a consequence of it.”
By contrast, Biden called for an economic policy starkly different to that Trump has pursued from day one on through the coronavirus recession. And he pointed to the work he’s done in Michigan to show his commitment to making that new economy.
“When I tell the American people I’m gonna do something, I follow through. Here in Michigan, you know that’s true,” Biden told the audience in Warren. “When we promised to stand with the American auto industry, we delivered … We did it to save an iconic American industry, a testament to the skills and ingenuity of American manufacturing, and the jobs of hundreds of thousands of American workers and the lifeblood of communities all across the Midwest.”
And Biden laid out his promise for a new restoration of the auto industry. He made an ambitious promise to modernize the entire fleet of federal vehicles to electric models, installing electric charging stations nationwide, and proposing a plan that resembled the early 2010s policy Cash for Clunkers. Biden also wants to lead by example, citing numerous times a desire to get himself a new electric Corvette.
He said this pivot toward electric would create a million jobs all through the supply chain.
“Getting a good job in 2020 right here in America shouldn’t be a lottery. It should be an absolute expectation for everyone,” he said. “We’re going to make it happen with American grit, American determination, and American union workers.”
But the Buy American plan isn’t just limited to the auto industry.
Inside Biden’s Plan to Buy American
The Buy American proposals include measures like closing loopholes that allow companies to offshore their headquarters to avoid taxes and giving financial incentives to companies that buy American-made products. That, in addition to other policies, is intended to “reshore” outsourced production and related jobs.
In broad strokes, the “Buy American” plan echoes some of Trump’s America-focused agenda, but Biden’s campaign has highlighted differences like avoiding trade wars that hobbled Trump’s manufacturing economy and pursuing specific policy proposals rather than vague economic nationalism. Laws designed to press federal agencies to purchase American-made products do already exist, but the campaign criticized them as being too lax and easy to circumvent.
The campaign also drew attention to the way Trump’s rhetoric surrounding pledges to buy and hire American have not been borne out by action.
Biden also wants to invoke the Defense Production Act, which would leverage federal purchasing power to get manufacturers to produce supplies needed for the coronavirus response domestically. Prior to the pandemic, the Los Angeles Times explains, most medical supplies in the U.S. came from China. Biden has been critical of Trump for not using the Defense Production Act to its potential already.