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Biden hits Trump on the economy in Pennsylvania as former president attends hush money trial

President Biden took aim at former President Trump as his likely November opponent sat in a courthouse in New York City Tuesday, bashing the former president’s economic record and proposals for a potential second term.

Biden delivered remarks in his one-time hometown of Scranton, Pa., where he argued that Trump’s economic vision would overwhelmingly favor the wealthiest Americans and corporations.

“When I look at the economy, I don’t see it through the eyes of Mar-a-Lago. I see it through the eyes of Scranton, and that’s not hyperbole. That’s a fact,” Biden told supporters. “Where honesty and decency matters. Where faith matters. Where family is everything.”

Biden’s event was the first of a three-day swing through Pennsylvania, a key battleground state that the president carried in 2020 by roughly 80,000 votes. He will also visit Pittsburgh on Wednesday and Philadelphia on Thursday.

While Biden travels through the Keystone State, Trump will be in court for a trial over an alleged hush money payment he made to an adult film star amid his 2016 campaign. The trial began this week, and Trump is expected to be in the courtroom four days a week for several weeks.

Trump earlier Tuesday complained that the trial was keeping him off the campaign trail.

“I should be right now in Pennsylvania, in Florida, in many other states, in North Carolina, Georgia, campaigning,” Trump told reporters, claiming without evidence that the Biden White House was responsible for his trials.

Biden made no mention of his opponent’s legal troubles during Tuesday’s speech, aside from repeating a line poking fun at the former president’s mounting legal fees. Instead, Biden aimed to draw a contrast between his economic record and Trump’s plans for a second term.

“Folks, trickle down economics failed the middle class. It failed America,” he said. “And the truth is, Donald Trump embodies that failure. He wants to double down on trickle down.”

Biden also reiterated key pillars of his economic agenda. He called for an increase in taxes on billionaires and vowed not to increase taxes on Americans earning less than $400,000 annually. And Biden touted his efforts to bolster the Affordable Care Act and lower costs for prescription drugs.

Trump’s proposals for a second term have included implementing a tariff on all imports, which some experts have warned could worsen inflation, as well as reciprocal tariffs on any country that imposes tariffs on U.S. goods. 

Trump and Republicans have also signaled they would move to make tax cuts passed during his first term permanent. And the former president has said he would look to increase U.S. drilling, though oil production has been at historic highs under Biden.

The economy has been an area where Biden has at times struggled to sell voters on his agenda.

A New York Times/Siena College poll published last Saturday found Biden had nearly erased Trump’s lead among registered voters nationally — but his handling of the economy continues to be a potential problem looking toward November.

The poll found 64 percent of voters approved of Trump’s handling of the economy during his first term, compared to 63 percent who disapproved of how Biden has handled the economy. The poll found 85 percent of young voters described the economy as poor or fair.

Inflation has been a particularly persistent issue for Biden, even as unemployment remains low and consumer confidence has bounced back from the coronavirus pandemic.

The consumer price index (CPI), a popular measure of inflation, rose 0.4 percent last month and 3.5 percent annually, largely in line with economist projections. While inflation has eased significantly since June 2022 — when it peaked at a 40-year high of 9.1 percent — the Federal Reserve has been hesitant to declare victory and begin cutting interest rates.

“As Joe Biden visits the Keystone State today, Pennsylvanians are struggling because of Bidenomics,” Republican National Committee chairman Michael Whatley said in a statement. “Pennsylvania families are suffering from historic inflation, unaffordable gas prices, and record high housing costs.”

“It’s no wonder why Pennsylvanians will vote to make America affordable again and elect President Trump in November,” he added.

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