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Sun. May 19th, 2024

Taking the stage at a South Carolina factory for his latest “Bidenomics” speech, Joe Biden gave the base of the apparently malfunctioning podium a light kick. The real kicking, he reserved for Republican critics of his economic plan.

Ahead of the 2024 election, Biden is seeking to turn the tables by stealing Republicans’ traditional talking points on the economy, boasting that he is now the pro-growth president — with a multitude of newly opened manufacturing plants to prove his point.

He took that message Thursday to deep pro-Republican territory in Columbia, South Carolina, where he toured a factory churning out high-tech solar panel components.

“Investment is working, and factories are being built, and jobs are being created… in rural America, the heartland, all across America, in communities that have been left out and hollowed out,” he said.

Biden seeks to win over voters from the working and middle class in those “hollowed out” communities, but he has a lot of work to do. Polls do not show the message has got through.

In fact, majorities of Americans tell pollsters that they trust former President Donald Trump more on the economy than Biden.

Biden suggested that he is more deserving of that trust, and he rattled off statistics to lay out what he gleefully calls “Bidenomics.”

Unemployment has remained consistently under four percent for the longest period in half a century, painful inflation rates from the aftermath of the Covid pandemic are slowly but steadily receding, and job creation is booming.

Crucially, Biden told workers at the plant, where solar firm Enphase Energy is collaborating with manufacturer Flex Ltd, none of this is happening by accident.

All the activity, he says, is fueled by historic government investment and incentive packages that he got passed — against expectations — through the nearly evenly split Congress earlier in his presidency.

For example, Enphase Energy and Flex Ltd are using tax incentives from Biden’s mammoth Inflation Reduction Act to juice some $60 million in investments, including 600 new jobs in South Carolina.

And that’s a blip in the bigger picture.

“Since I took office, we have attracted a half a trillion dollars — $497 billion — in private investment in American manufacturing, both here and around the world. It’s historic, and it’s Bidenomics in action,” Biden said.

  • Ribbing Republicans –

The twist to Biden’s message is that Republicans nearly all opposed his giant public spending plans — and now he’s coming back to rib them.

Mocking Republicans who tried to stop the bills yet seem more than happy to see the resulting investments reach their states, Biden said: “All those members of Congress who voted against it suddenly realize how great it is, and they’re bragging about it. As my mother would say, ‘God love them.'”

South Carolina hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1976 and just a week ago Trump held a large election campaign rally of his own in the state, proving that his grievance-laden message remains powerful.

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, who is also seeking the Republican presidential nomination, scoffed on Twitter that “propaganda tours won’t hide the damage Bidenomics has done to our economy. This President has delivered nothing but failure.”

No Republican officials attended Biden’s factory visit or even met with the president. And on his way into the facility, Biden’s motorcade had to pass about a dozen Trump supporters, including a woman displaying a “Women for Trump” flag who yelled and made an obscene gesture at the passing vehicles.

The Biden team, though, believes it can eat right into Trump’s base by emphasizing that the manufacturing bonanza is targeted primarily at the working and middle class.

That would allow him to target the kinds of disaffected communities that turned away from Democrats to Trump’s populism in 2016 and 2020.

Even as polls don’t yet show that he has made the case effectively, aides say the tide will turn as investments take root, giving Biden the opportunity to do more visits like Thursday’s factory stop.

“I think people are beginning to feel the results of this,” a senior administration official said. “We need to tell the story.”

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©️ Agence France-Presse

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