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Biden says Trump policies have led to coronavirus 'economic disaster'

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenAzar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments House Democrats introduce measures to oppose Trump's bomb sale to Saudis On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits MORE said on Friday that President TrumpDonald TrumpCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Azar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments Justice Dept. argues Trump should get immunity from rape accuser's lawsuit MORE’s economic policies have deepened the economic crisis the U.S. faces due to the coronavirus because he “spent three years tilting the playing field” in favor of the wealthy instead of the middle class.

In a speech broadcast over the Twitter account run by the millennial news website Now This, Biden argued that Trump failed to prepare for the coronavirus outbreak and then responded by bailing out the wealthy and large corporations.

The sum total, Biden said, had led to a deeper economic crisis than was necessary.

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“It’s an economic disaster, worse than any we’ve seen in decades, and it’s all made worse because it didn’t have to be this way,” Biden said.

“Donald Trump utterly failed to prepare us for this pandemic and delayed in taking the necessary steps to safeguard our nation against the near worst-case economic scenario we are now living," he added. "COVID-19 caused massive economic challenges, but this crisis hit harder and will last longer because Donald Trump spent the last three years undermining the core pillars of our economic strength.”

The speech comes after the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Friday that the U.S. lost 20.5 million jobs in April, a surge in unemployment that has wiped out 10 years of job gains.

The unemployment rate spiked more than 10 points, from 4.4 percent in March to 14.7 percent in April, as businesses cut workers they could no longer afford to pay amid the widespread lockdowns in the country.

Trump has sought to take credit for trillions of dollars in stimulus passed by Congress to mitigate the economic impact from the coronavirus, and the Federal Reserve has flooded the market with liquidity.

But fears of a deep recession remain widespread.

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Trump has been eager to reopen the economy, but governors in many states are approaching the matter with caution in an effort to ensure that the outbreak does not worsen.

The president also insists that the economy is resilient and will bounce back, and his reelection campaign is banking on that as the race heats up. But there is no guarantee that consumers and workers will quickly return to business as usual once the economies start opening up again.

The Trump campaign’s argument is that Trump built a juggernaut economy that was derailed due to no fault of his own and that he’s the only one who can build it up again.

In addition, the Trump campaign intends to argue that the president did more in three years for the economy than the Obama-Biden administration did in their eight years in power.

“The Paycheck Protection Program has saved tens of millions of jobs across the country as President Trump leads America through this crisis," said Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh. "The president has been hard at work protecting the safety of Americans and also safeguarding the economy, while Joe Biden sits in his basement lobbing political hand grenades in a desperate plea for relevance. While President Trump has been leading the nation in the war against the coronavirus, Biden has assumed the role of the opposition in that war. It’s pathetic.”

On Friday, Biden signaled that he intends to make the case that Trump built an economy that worked for the wealthiest and for large corporations, but did nothing for middle and lower class Americans.

Biden said Trump’s “main measure of economic progress” has been the state of the stock market.

“It’s the only metric he values and it’s the only lens through which he sees our economy,” Biden said. “For the past three years even as Americans have had to work harder than ever to pay their bills, he said the economy was great because the stock market was up. He irresponsibly downplayed … the virus to protect the Dow Jones average, a choice that has so far cost tens of thousands of American lives and millions of jobs.”

Biden pointed to the GOP’s tax cuts, which he said “focused on helping the wealthy and big corporations.”

And he said Trump campaigned on boosting the middle class, “but he mainly forgot them once he got elected.”

“He’s run the same playbook hollowing out our economy … the rich get richer, powerful get more power and everyone else is told they have to work harder,” Biden said. “Have you heard that before? Well, we’re not buying it.”