Economic Recovery From Coronavirus Is a ‘Long Way Away,' Joe Biden Says

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Former Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that an economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic looks “a long way away.” 

He also condemned President Donald Trump’s handling of the crisis, blaming him for lost lives and economic ruin.

In an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” the apparent Democratic presidential nominee criticized the 2017 Republican tax cuts and questioned how the U.S. could use the lost revenue as it tries to lift a devastated economy. More than 38 million people have filed jobless claims since states started widespread lockdowns to slow the virus, and GDP is expected to go into freefall in the second quarter. 

“Imagine if we had that $2 trillion now as we go into, God willing, a recovery which is a long way away as I see it right now,” Biden told CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin.

He spoke during an unprecedented presidential election where the pandemic and economic collapse — and President Donald Trump’s response to them — have overshadowed any other issue. The virus has forced both major party candidates to stop in-person events for more than two months as the incumbent tries to defend a virus response critics such as Biden have called sluggish and inadequate. 

“His slowness is costing lives and costing jobs and costing our ability to rebound,” the former vice president said Friday. 

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about Biden’s remarks.

The U.S. has reported more than 1.5 million Covid-19 cases, and the disease has led to more than 94,000 deaths nationwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The Trump administration’s preparedness for the outbreak and efforts to ramp up testing came under particular scrutiny this spring as cases in America quickly outpaced any other country. 

As states battered by business closures and unemployment start to reopen their economies, some still have not seen their rate of Covid-19 infections decline. In Washington, policymakers have come to a divide over whether to forge ahead with partial restarts while focusing on testing or send more federal relief to states, businesses and individuals while taking a more cautious approach to lifting lockdowns. 

While the president and many of his GOP allies push to restart businesses now to boost growth, Biden said “the way to fix the economy is get the public health response correct.” 

Trump’s rival in the 2020 election condemned the president’s party for its reluctance to send more relief money to state and local governments, some of which could struggle to pay first responders or teachers as they face higher expenses and lost revenue. House Democrats approved nearly $1 trillion in aid to states and municipalities last week, but Senate Republicans have no plans to pass the $3 trillion rescue bill. 

He also contended the government has favored larger over smaller businesses as it doles out the more than $2.5 trillion in taxpayer relief money approved in March and April. 

In detailing the economic policies he would implement if he won the White House, Biden said he would “repeal the $2 trillion tax cut for folks making over a million bucks a year” and hike the corporate tax rate to 28% even during a recovery period. He added that as the U.S. moves closer to rebounding from the crisis, he wants to push for an infrastructure overhaul and other job-creating measures. 

Among his virus response plans, Biden has called for short-time compensation, under which companies would keep workers employed with reduced hours and the government would pay for the difference in wages. He has pushed for better safety standards and a pay boost for employees deemed essential who have to work on-site during the crisis.

Averages of recent polls in swing states such as Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania show a tight race with Biden holding a narrow edge. 

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