By Sabrina Siddiqui and Jacob M. Schlesinger 

WASHINGTON--Former Vice President Joe Biden is expected Thursday to outline a plan that his campaign says is aimed at reviving the U.S. economy with an America-centric approach to job creation and manufacturing, issuing a direct challenge to President Trump as they compete for working-class voters less than four months before the presidential election.

Mr. Biden is poised to unveil his agenda while campaigning in Dunmore, Pa., where the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee will tour a metalworks plant before making his economic pitch to an American public still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. Mr. Biden's remarks in the November battleground state will coincide with a visit from Vice President Mike Pence, who is slated to make several campaign stops in eastern Pennsylvania on the same day.

Mr. Biden's campaign previewed his remarks on a conference call with reporters Wednesday. The campaign said his proposals are designed to reduce America's reliance on foreign countries after the pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities of the U.S., and other countries, in relying on foreign producers such as China for critical medical supplies and equipment.

Mr. Biden has repeatedly criticized Mr. Trump's response to the pandemic as a failure, accusing his opponent of "doing next to nothing" as the U.S. death toll surpassed 130,000. Under his own coronavirus response plan, Mr. Biden would seek to boost U.S. production of personal protective equipment, pharmaceuticals and other medical devices, tapping into a movement that has rapidly gained bipartisan support in Congress. Hospitals across the country have reported shortages in supplies while grappling with the coronavirus.

Mr. Biden is expected to lay out a plan that calls for aggressively ramping up "Buy American" provisions covering U.S. government spending that, under his platform, would account for a larger part of the U.S. economy. The "Buy American" initiative would require that some portion of federal funds be set aside for domestic producers. Such provisions can be a source of international commercial tension, frequently prompting complaints from other countries that they run afoul of global trade rules designed to ensure fair access to markets for companies from all over the world.

The Biden speech, a campaign adviser said, will serve notice to American trading partners that, even if Mr. Trump loses in November, allies shouldn't expect Washington to return to the embrace of economic globalization that had defined the policies of the Obama-Biden administration and two decades of Republican and Democratic presidents who preceded it.

A senior Biden campaign adviser said Wednesday that, in implementing any such policies, the vice president "will not be ignoring World Trade Organization rules." But he said that those rules are outdated and added that Germany and France--two countries that have tried to defend the global trading system against Mr. Trump's criticisms--were themselves similarly rushing to curb dependence on imports for critical medical supplies.

The adviser also said Mr. Biden won't make a priority of entering new free-trade agreements or reviving the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership that President Obama negotiated at the end of his term and that Mr. Trump pulled out of at the beginning of his.

Mr. Biden won't consider "entering new trade deals before the work is done at home to make investments in American job creation," the adviser said.

The plan signals that Mr. Biden will continue the government stimulus spending that has been approved to cope with the pandemic's economic damage. Before this week, Mr. Biden had proposed about $6.7 trillion in new spending over the next 10 years, according to Cornerstone Macro, an investment research firm, or about triple what Hillary Clinton had proposed in 2016. On Thursday, he will add $700 billion in spending to that, according to a senior adviser.

Meanwhile, Mr. Pence will embark on a bus tour from Lancaster to Philadelphia, where he will meet with police officers at their union hall in the wake of nationwide protests over racism and police brutality. He will also hold a roundtable on reopening the economy.

In 2016, Mr. Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate to carry Pennsylvania since 1988. But recent polls show the president trailing Mr. Biden both in the Keystone State and nationally. A RealClearPolitics average of recent polls shows Mr. Biden with roughly a 6.5-point lead over Mr. Trump in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Biden, who was born in Scranton, has often highlighted his personal ties to the state. He launched his presidential bid from Pittsburgh last year and based his campaign headquarters in Philadelphia.

This week Mr. Biden took additional steps to strengthen his Pennsylvania operation by hiring two top Democratic Party strategists for senior roles in the state.

"If I'm going to be able to beat Donald Trump in 2020, it's going to happen here," Mr. Biden has said.

Write to Sabrina Siddiqui at Sabrina.Siddiqui@wsj.com and Jacob M. Schlesinger at jacob.schlesinger@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 09, 2020 05:44 ET (09:44 GMT)

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