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Sunday, May 9, 2021

When Joseph R. Biden Stays Quiet About Economic Policy

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For a guy running on his purported economic prowess, Joseph R. Biden Jr. sure doesn’t talk much about the subject.

“I have consistently said and will continue to say that over the course of this election that we can’t grow out of this recession,” he said at an event for his political group in Atlanta last month. “It would just never work.”

Which is unusual for the 47-year-old former vice president, whose book tour, on which he has given 10 speeches, has largely centered on his status as a Democratic elder and anyone-can-be-president talk.

Even his closing statement on the campaign trail — “Whoever our next president is, we’re in trouble” — is not a line from his 2000 autobiography, but a passage from a 2014 Huffington Post interview.

The absence of an economic policy has been puzzling, considering Mr. Biden has most recently served as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees the Internal Revenue Service and passed some of the nation’s most progressive tax policy. He received two of the party’s highest ratings from the National Taxpayers Union: 89 percent in 2010 and 85 percent in 2012.

Mr. Biden has long proposed something different from the typical Democratic economic agenda.

Mr. Biden’s tax plan would continue to give middle-class families a big tax cut — without offsetting tax increases on the wealthy that most of his party supports. And it would get rid of taxes that families of all income levels pay on employer-provided health insurance.

And he would triple the child tax credit.

Under his plan, the middle class would get a $1,800 tax cut, paying for that by ending tax breaks that benefit some of the country’s wealthiest families.

The child tax credit, which currently applies to a single child, would be refundable for any child under age 17. They would see an additional $1,000 credit, an amount capped at $1,500.

It’s possible that Mr. Biden’s tax plan would reduce taxes for the middle class, though an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates the family tax cuts would be smaller than the value of the child tax credit. Families in the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution would save an average of $150 under his plan, or 0.2 percent of their income, while families in the top fifth of the income distribution would see an average $80, or 0.4 percent of their income.

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