Biden Bashes Trump in Pennsylvania as He Lays Out His Tax Plan

President Biden delivered a flurry of attacks on former President Donald J. Trump during a Tuesday speech in Pennsylvania about taxes and economic policy, painting his Republican rival as a puppet of plutocrats who had ignored the working class.

Visiting his hometown, Scranton, in a top battleground state that he has visited more often than any other, Mr. Biden laid out his vision for a fairer tax code, including raising rates on the wealthy and corporations and using the money to expand the economy and help working families.

But in a speech that signaled the Biden campaign’s intention to make the 2024 election a referendum on his polarizing Republican opponent, the president returned again and again to Mr. Trump. His jabs at his predecessor took aim at the former president’s wealthy upbringing, his friendships with billionaires and his 2017 tax cuts that disproportionately benefited America’s upper crust.

“Donald Trump looks at the world differently than you and me,” Mr. Biden told a crowd of more than a hundred supporters at a cultural center in Scranton. “He wakes up in the morning at Mar-a-Lago thinking about himself. How he can help his billionaire friends gain power and control, and force their extreme agenda on the rest of us.”

Aiming for a clear contrast, Mr. Biden laid out his proposals: Expanding the child tax care credit. Providing a $10,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers. Raising the minimum tax rate for billionaires and corporations.

“We know the best way to build an economy is from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down,” Mr. Biden said. “Because when you do that, the poor have a ladder up and the middle class does well and the wealthy still do very well. We all do well.”

Karoline Leavitt, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, disputed that Mr. Biden’s plan would benefit Americans.

“President Trump proudly passed the largest tax CUTS in history,” she said in a statement. “Joe Biden is proposing the largest tax HIKE ever.”

Throughout his speech, Mr. Biden wove in criticism of Mr. Trump — including a needling joke about the falling shares in the former president’s social media company.

“If Trump’s stock in Truth Social — his company — drops any lower, he might do better under my tax plan than his,” Mr. Biden said.

The president’s speech kicked off a three-day swing through Pennsylvania, with appearances scheduled in Pittsburgh on Wednesday and Philadelphia on Thursday. The trip came as Mr. Trump appeared in court in Manhattan for the second straight day as his first criminal trial begins — a striking split screen welcomed by the Biden campaign.

Since Mr. Biden delivered his State of the Union address last month, his campaign has shifted into general election mode, after a far quieter start to the year. In recent weeks, he has visited every major battleground state. His campaign has opened more than 100 field offices around the nation in coordination with state Democratic parties, spent $30 million in an advertising blitz and built a significant fund-raising advantage over Mr. Trump. An Arizona court decision that upheld a near-total abortion ban dating to 1864 has also energized Democrats.

As those efforts have taken place, Mr. Biden’s depressed poll numbers have improved, with a survey this month by The New York Times and Siena College finding that he had nearly erased Mr. Trump’s lead nationwide. The president had trailed Mr. Trump by five percentage points in the previous survey. Much of Mr. Biden’s recovery came from his improved standing among traditional Democratic voters, a signal that his campaign’s messaging efforts may be having an effect.

Still, Mr. Biden faces an uphill battle in convincing Americans that he is a better steward of the nation’s economy than Mr. Trump. In the latest Times/Siena poll, 64 percent of voters said they approved of how Mr. Trump had handled the economy while in office. Only 34 percent said the same of Mr. Biden, the poll found.

The tax cuts that Mr. Trump signed into law in 2017 have proved unpopular with voters. And while they increased investment in the U.S. economy and delivered a modest pay bump for workers, they fell short of Republican promises and are adding greatly to the national debt, one academic study found. Many parts of those tax cuts are set to expire next year.

Mr. Biden pledged in his speech that under his plan, nobody earning less than $400,000 would see their taxes go up.

“I hope you’re able to make $400,000,” he told the crowd. “I never did.”

As Mr. Biden spoke, Mr. Trump was seated in a Manhattan courtroom roughly two hours away, watching the selection of the first jurors in his trial. Mr. Biden has generally refrained from mentioning the charges Mr. Trump faces in four criminal cases, but his campaign did troll the former president on social media for appearing to fall asleep during proceedings on Monday.

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, did not answer when asked if Mr. Biden was watching the Trump trial or being briefed on it.

“His focus is on the American people,” she said during a briefing with reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Scranton.

But even in his hometown, Mr. Biden could not avoid the anger that many Democrats feel over his support for Israel during its war in Gaza. As Mr. Biden walked up the steps of his childhood home, a crowd of protesters down the block waved Palestinian flags and chanted “Genocide Joe has got to go” through a loudspeaker.

Mr. Biden is set to speak on Wednesday at the headquarters of the United Steelworkers union in Pittsburgh before visiting Philadelphia on Thursday. He narrowly defeated Mr. Trump in Pennsylvania in 2020, and winning the state is crucial to his re-election strategy.

Democratic allies of Mr. Biden said they thought his message on economic fairness would resonate in Pennsylvania.

“Scranton versus Fifth Avenue was one of the most successful frames from the 2020 campaign,” said Representative Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania, referring to the location of Trump Tower in Manhattan. “You’re going to see more of it in this campaign.”

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