Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about the U.S. economy during a campaign event at McGregor Industries, a metal works plant that manufactures stairs and stair railings, in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, July 9, 2020.
Tom Brenner | Reuters
Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, laying out his plans for an economic recovery Thursday, said President Donald Trump is too focused on the stock market during the coronavirus pandemic.
The former vice president, speaking at an event in Pennsylvania, said he wanted to end the “era of shareholder capitalism.”
“Throughout this crisis, Donald Trump has been almost singularly focused on the stock market, the Dow and Nasdaq. Not you. Not your families,” Biden said. “If I am fortunate enough to be elected president, I’ll be laser-focused on working families, the middle-class families I came from here in Scranton. Not the wealthy investor class. They don’t need me.”
Among the policies Biden described Thursday is a tax hike for corporations. His plans call for a 28% corporate tax rate, well above the 21% set by Trump’s 2017 tax cuts but still below where the top rate was previously.
Jack Lew, who served as Treasury secretary when Biden was vice president, said Thursday on “Closing Bell” that when the Obama administration discussed tax reform, a 21% rate was lower than even what business leaders were asking for and that the economy could withstand higher taxes.
“There’s a lot of room in tax policy to be both sensible and fair and to promote economic growth,” said Lew, a supporter of Biden.
The U.S. stock market sold off sharply beginning in late February as the coronavirus pandemic began to spread in the U.S. and Europe, before hitting its recent bottom on March 23.
Since then, the S&P 500 has rallied more than 40% with unprecedented support from the Federal Reserve and the CARES Act, which expanded unemployment benefits and provided other fiscal relief. The broad market index is still down more than 2% for the year.
The market rebound has come despite a dramatic increase in jobless claims that saw the unemployment rate rise to levels not seen since World War II. Unemployment was still above 11% in June despite a record gain of jobs, according to the Labor Department.
Trump said in a tweet Monday that investment accounts would “disintegrate and disappear” if Biden won in November.
Lew said that Biden winning the presidency and Democrats taking control of both houses of Congress would not be a negative for investors.
“I think the markets and the economy would be doing a lot better if we had stable leadership in Washington, if we had an experienced hand during times of crisis,” Lew said.