With the backdrop of an American flag and numerous American manufactured cars, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivered a speech in Warren to a physically distanced group of United Auto Workers members — a group that has endorsed him — to outline his “Made in America” plan. The goal of the plan is to produce more American jobs and prevent companies from offshoring labor.

“We need to do the hard work,” Biden said. “Not only for the economy but to build back for the future once more. That’s why my ‘Build Back Better’ agenda, that’s what it’s all about. It starts right here with you.”

The stop was one of his first in-person campaign events since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic halted in-person gatherings in March. In the last two weeks, he has done events in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, two states that are crucial to building his electoral base ahead of the election. 

Michigan is a key battleground state in the upcoming election, with Hillary Clinton losing to President Donald Trump by less than one percent of the vote in 2016. Warren — where Biden delivered his speech on Wednesday — is in Macomb County, Michigan’s third-largest county and a place where Trump won in 2016 — the first Republican to win in the county since 1988. According to a WDIV/Detroit News poll, Biden currently leads Trump by five points in Michigan, 47-42. Biden has remained a steady lead over Trump since January, when he led the president by seven points, 50-43. 

Biden delivered his speech a day before Trump is set to hold an in-person rally in an airport hangar in Freeland, Michigan. 

The event began with remarks from UAW Secretary-Treasurer Ray Curry, who talked about the UAW’s strong support for Biden and their shared history of supporting workers in the auto industry. 

“As you know the UAW was the first to back (Biden) when running for the Senate,” Curry said. “(Biden’s) been a long friend in good times of labor. Joe Biden not only walked the walk, but he talked the talk and that’s why we’re here today.”

Biden began his speech by condemning Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic — which has killed more than 190,000 people in the U.S. alone — and the pandemic’s effects on the economy and the auto-manufacturing industry. 

“He lied about the threat (the virus) posed to the country for months. He knew how dangerous it was,” Biden said. “While this deadly disease ripped through this nation, he failed to do his job on purpose. It was a life or death betrayal of the American people. …  This is a recession created by Donald Trump’s negligence and he is unfit for this job.” 

Biden then announced the key parts of his new “Made in America” plan, which proposes a series of executive actions and new tax policies. The plan hopes to establish a 10-percent advanceable tax credit for companies that invest in American workers and hopes to provide better recognition to companies that maintain or bring back operations to the U.S. It also proposes a 2.8 percent tax increase from 28 percent to 30.8 percent on American companies who produce overseas but sell their products domestically.

The plan will establish a “Made in America” office within the Office of Management and Budget to effectively set in place “Buy American” policies. 

“Make it in Michigan,” Biden exclaimed. “Make it in America. Invest in the communities and the workers in places like Warren. The UAW workers and steelworkers and IBEW workers — the best craftsmen in the world — are right here. And if you’re ready to make it in America, then, just like there will be consequences for offshoring, there will be rewards and incentives for creating good-paying jobs here at home.” 

Biden shared his own personal commitment to creating cleaner-energy jobs and automotive vehicles. His plan is to create more than 500,000 new charging stations and offer rebates and incentives to swap fuel-efficient vehicles for new electric and hybrid vehicles. He boasted that it could create more than 1 million new jobs. 

“We can do this,” Biden said. “We can revitalize our industrial jobs base as the heart of the American middle class.” 

Biden ended his speech by emphasizing the importance of labor unions and remaining hopeful through these trying times.

“I do not buy for one second that the vitality of American manufacturing is a thing of the past,” Biden said. “(American manufacturing) must be part of the engine of American prosperity now. And we can make it happen with American grit and American determination — and American union workers. That’s my promise to you.”

LSA sophomore Andrew Schaeffler, co-founder of Students for Biden at the University of Michigan, expressed his and Students for Biden’s support for and excitement about Biden’s speech and plans to help the auto industry.

“(The plans) he is introducing today are not only much needed, but will spur job creation in Michigan. We are glad to see the importance of Michigan in the presidential race, and look forward to doing everything we can to elect Joe Biden and flip Michigan blue,” Schaeffler said.

The University’s chapter of College Republicans declined to comment on Biden’s campaign speech. 

Heading into November, Biden will continue to hold in-person events across the U.S. and scour the “blue wall” in order to ramp up support ahead of Election Day. So far, Biden has spent more than $27 million on ads in Michigan, compared to Trump who has spent only $11.2 million. 

Daily Staff Reporter Julia Forrest can be reached at juforres@umich.edu.

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