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Biden outlines economic agenda, proposes $700B plan to boost US manufacturing

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for the 2020 presidential election, unveiled his economic agenda July 9, vowing to take on corporate America, empower workers and revive the manufacturing sector.

Biden renewed his calls for raising the U.S. corporate income tax rate to 28% and his pledges to increase workers' wages and strengthen their rights to collectively bargain and form unions. He also announced a $700 billion proposal to revive the manufacturing sector as part of a wider plan to fuel the country's economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

"The days of Amazon paying nothing in federal income tax will be over," Biden said in a speech in Dunmore, Pa. "It's way past time that we put an end to the era of shareholder capitalism."

To stimulate manufacturing activity, Biden called for a $400 billion increase in federal purchases of U.S.-made products, including clean vehicles and technologies, building materials, and medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. He also proposed spending $300 billion on research and development over four years in sectors such as clean energy, autos, aerospace, artificial intelligence, 5G and telecommunications.

Biden's manufacturing plan would create 5 million new jobs, according to an outline of his economic agenda published on his campaign website.

The former vice president laid out other proposals, including clamping down on companies that label imports from China or elsewhere as U.S.-made, establishing a credit facility for smaller manufacturers, and providing tax credits for existing or shuttered production facilities to encourage their modernization or reopening.

Further on taxes, Biden wants to eliminate tax breaks for companies that move production overseas and provide new incentives to those that make critical products in the U.S. in a bid to bring back key supply chains to the country.

On trade, Biden said he would get tough on China and other countries with unfair practices that harm U.S. manufacturing, vowing to take aggressive trade enforcement actions against them. He also promised a different strategy on confronting Chinese and foreign efforts to steal U.S. intellectual property, including a new sanctions regime against Chinese firms engaged in state-sponsored cyber espionage targeting U.S. companies.

Some of the points on China echoed Trump administration rhetoric and actions as tensions between the countries have risen. Most recently, the U.S. Treasury Department on July 9 sanctioned a Chinese government entity and four current or former government officials in connection with human rights abuses against and detainment of Uighur Muslims. This followed the Trump administration barring Chinese airlines from flying to the U.S. in mid-June, while China told two state-run agriculture companies to pause purchases of U.S. soybeans, pork and other farm goods. That move came after Washington ended Hong Kong's special trade status because it no longer considers the territory autonomous from China.