Joe Biden on Thursday rolled out a wide-ranging plan to reopen the US economy as states lift restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus — and also knocked President Trump for purportedly not having a detailed plan of his own.
“Trump has basically had a one-point plan: Open businesses,” Biden said Thursday at an economic roundtable in Philadelphia.
“It does nothing to keep workers safe, to keep businesses able to stay open, and secondly it does very little to increase consumer confidence.”
Biden vowed to guarantee testing and protective equipment for people called back to work, while banning discrimination against elderly Americans and others at high risk of contracting the virus.
The former veep also wants to use federal funds to ensure paid leave for anyone who falls ill or has to care for people who do.
He proposed a national contact tracing workforce or “job corps” of at least 100,000 to call people who test positive, track down their contacts and get them into quarantine.
“Trump may have forgotten about the coronavirus, but it hasn’t forgotten about us,” said Biden, who rolled out his plan as new cases spiked in more than 10 states since Memorial Day.
“The failure to respond to the pandemic, I think the federal government has abdicated any effective leadership role,” he added, as the US death toll topped 113,000 in just three months.
Biden also pledged a “Nationwide Pandemic Dashboard,” where Americans could check the virus’ spread by zip code.
He also backed more funding for schools and child care centers as they reopen and the creation of a “safe shopper” program meant to make returning consumers less leery of getting sick.
He noted the potentially eye-popping price tag of all that, joking, “There goes that big-spending Democrat again,” but added, “If we don’t do this, we’re going to be in deep, deep, deeper trouble economically.”
After remaining at home for months, Biden has begun holding public events within driving distance of his house in Delaware.
But his more aggressive approach has so far not extended to resuming campaign rallies.
Trump has been itching to get out of the nation’s capital, and will resume large rallies on June 19 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The president flew to Dallas on Thursday for a $10 million fundraiser and said he’ll begin holding a series of rallies starting with the one in Oklahoma.
Biden’s campaign said it will resume normal campaign travel and events when public health officials and authorities say it’s safe.
Melissa Reed, a spokeswoman for Trump Victory in Pennsylvania, said voters “don’t want to return to the stagnant economic growth under the Obama-Biden Administration, they want a Great American Comeback under President Trump.”
The president’s re-election campaign also criticized Biden for offering a plan to jump-start the economy “six weeks too late.”
The back-and-forth came as the Dow plunged more than 1,800 points Thursday, though it rebounded somewhat early Friday, and as another 1.5 million Americans applied for unemployment, bringing the total to roughly 44 million since the pandemic began.