Joe Biden will seek to depict Donald Trump as a defender of Wall Street rather than America’s middle class on a visit to northeastern Pennsylvania on Thursday, in an attempt to emphasise the big divide between the candidates over the taxation of wealthy Americans.

The Democratic party’s nominee for the White House will take part in a televised town hall in Scranton, Pennsylvania — his hometown in the heart of a critical political battleground that helped Mr Trump win the presidency four years ago.

Aides to Mr Biden suggested the former vice-president would seek to draw a contrast between his plans for higher taxes on wealthy individuals earning more than $400,000 per year, and Mr Trump’s 2017 tax bill, which slashed income taxes for households and companies, as well as the president’s desire to reduce taxes on capital gains.

“Joe Biden sees this election as Park Avenue versus Scranton,” Kate Bedingfield, the deputy campaign manager, told reporters. “We’ve got a president in Donald Trump who can only see as far as Wall Street and who looks down on working people.”

Tax policy has emerged as one of the starkest fissures on policy in the 2020 race, with Mr Biden seeking to implement a progressive tax platform that includes an increase in corporate taxes as well as higher levies on the wealthy. Mr Trump and his advisers have assailed this as the wrong recipe at a time of economic distress and a lurch towards socialism.

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“Show me a good Keynesian, show me a good demand-sider, show me a John F. Kennedy Democrat, about whom I wrote a book — nobody in their right mind would want to raise taxes right now,” Larry Kudlow, the director of the White House’s National Economic Council, told Fox Business Network earlier this month.

“We want to keep money in the pockets of men and women and wallets and pocketbooks and businesses,” he added.

Line chart showing how Trump and Biden are doing in the US national polls

The Biden campaign has emphasised that no American earning less than $400,000 per year will see a tax increase if he is elected. It argues that offering more relief to high-income households is wrong-headed since the US recovery is very uneven, with equity markets rebounding quickly while 11m fewer Americans are in work compared with February.

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“Biden will ensure the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share, and is proposing new tax cuts for working families,” Stefanie Feldman, Mr Biden’s policy director, told reporters.

“Trump looks at all the pain being experienced by working families, families worried about paying rent and putting food on the table — and he says, ‘let’s give billionaires some help’,” she added.

According to the polling average, Mr Biden has a lead of 4.3 percentage points over Mr Trump in Pennsylvania, and many political analysts believe the Democratic challenger for the White House cannot win the electoral college without prevailing in the state.

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Via Financial Times