Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden attacked President Donald Trump's economic policies on Wednesday, telling voters in Pennsylvania's electoral state that the middle class is "in trouble."
"I don't think Donald Trump can understand that - he doesn't seem to have any sense of empathy," Biden said to an audience of more than 200 people in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the town of Rust Belt where he grew up.
Biden said Trump is wasting a strong economy left behind by former President Barack Obama, whom Biden served as vice president. Biden focused his fire on the Republican president rather than rivals in his own Democratic party.
"The middle class built this country," said Biden, but "they are in trouble," with many without medical care or struggling to pay their bills.
Pennsylvania will be the key to the 2020 presidential election. Trump won the state on 2016 against Democrat Hillary Clinton by just 44.292 votes.
Trump is due to speak later Wednesday at an oil and gas industry event in Pittsburgh. A campaign spokeswoman, Erin Perrine, said in a statement that Biden is out of touch with the American middle class.
"Under the Trump administration, workers are thriving, unemployment has reached record levels, wages are rising and while taxes have been cut - benefiting ALL Americans," she said.
Biden has turned his attention to the economy after spending much of the past few weeks attacking Trump for his decision to withdraw forces from Syria and the president's unproven allegations about the foreign affairs of Biden's son Hunter.
Trump is running a job and growth program, reporting unemployment rates at several-decade lows during the largest US economic expansion ever. However, many voters are disgusted by economic inequality and fear of slowing growth and a possible recession, as the benefits of a tax cut on 2017 disappear and tariffs on Chinese imports hurt American farmers and manufacturers.
Democratic candidates put forward a series of economic proposals aimed at investing in future generations and reversing inequality in wealth and income. Biden has stopped supporting the more aggressive policies, including universal income guarantees and federal wealth tax, not just income taxes.
"I'm honestly more conservative, but I get good vibes from him," said Dan Amon, 18, a student at Scranton University who attended the speech and is considering voting for Biden's Democratic primaries. "The other Democratic candidates - they're a little extreme for me."
Biden has not yet disclosed his own economic plan. He promised to raise the US minimum wage to $ 15 per hour from the current $ 7,25, and issued targeted spending proposals from higher education to health.
He criticized his opponents, including US Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and US Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, for lacking details about the wealth tax they support or how they would pay for proposals like the Medicare plan. for All, based on government health. insurance program for Americans aged 65 or older.
The former vice president has promised to pay for his own plans, largely by raising taxes on those earning the most income. Biden, for example, would raise the marginal tax rate on the highest earners from 37% to 39,6%, which was reduced by the Republicans tax bill in 2017.