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Biden visits a Mack truck plant in Pa. to unveil his 'Buy American' plan

Julia Terruso and Jonathan Tamari, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Political News

Comfort argued that his latest major proposal, a massive infrastructure program, would only add to the country’s rising inflation.

“On Biden’s watch the money in your pocket and my pocket is worth less and less by the day,” she said. “Now we’re considering more reckless spending. Now’s not the time for that.”

Recent inflation has outstripped wage gains as the economy returns toward normalcy, and June saw the biggest jump in consumer prices in 13 years.

The White House, and many economists, argue that the spike in inflation is temporary and likely to settle down, saying it’s being caused by unique factors around the pandemic. Part of the reason for price increases is that current costs are being measured against prices from last summer, in the midst of the pandemic-enforced economic shutdown. Economists and the Federal Reserve also blame a temporary shortage in supply chains, after months of decreased economic activity, while demand leaps.

But Republicans also point to experts who had warned that Biden’s nearly $2 trillion American Rescue Plan could overheat the economy.

At the plant on Wednesday, Biden saw where the huge truck cabs are loaded into frames. He also got a look at a new electric garbage truck as local workers took him around.

The Lehigh Valley is a critical swing region and outside the warehouse, dozens of supporters of former President Donald Trump lined one side of a street while backers of Biden lined the other. One woman held a “Macungie Welcomes Biden” sign feet away from a man with a “Trump 2020″ flag. At one point, police pushed both groups away from the factory, corralling them into close proximity and leading to some yelling and exchanges of expletives.

 

This was the second presidential visit in a little over a year to the Allentown area for a talk about manufacturing.

In May 2020, Trump visited PPE-maker Owens & Minor in Upper Macungie to tout the opportunity for the pandemic to boost American manufacturing through government contracts.

Politically, buying American is a rallying call both parties have tried to claim, as they appeal to union workers and a more broad swath of people in rural and exurban parts of swing states like Pennsylvania where manufacturing and factories once ruled. Today less than 10% of the labor force works in factories.

But the need to boost that became evident during the pandemic, with shortages in PPE and health and medical equipment.

It’s also an issue in the tech sector, where the U.S. is heavily dependent on China and Taiwan for micro computer chips used in computers, phones and Mack truck engines.

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